This is an interesting hook-up. Paul Brown, best known for polished urban grooves produces Jeff Golub, the edgiest and most rock-oriented guitarist to set foot on smooth jazz turf. Brown's formatic wizardry has kept an entire stable of musicians on the radio at a time when there isn't much space available for original instrumental music, but for the most part he has toned them down and polished them up. On the other hand, as a guitarist launching a solo recording career, Brown seems to have started looking at the boundaries from a different perspective and coming up with crafty ways to get around them. This is alchemy at work, a connection made at exactly the right time. Temptation is one loose, fun, and funky ride. There is some polish on the edges but the sound is vintage Golub.
Temptation is Golub's first release for Narada and his first collaboration with Paul Brown, who co-wrote seven songs for the project. Guitars and Saxes tour-mate Euge Groove is featured on two tracks and Brian Culbertson sits in on one. Surprisingly, this is the first time Jerry Hey has done horn arrangements on a Golub CD. An obvious and perfect match. The brief horn section riff that opens the CD is its defining moment. This is what Temptation is all about.
“Uptown Express” starts with some street scene sound effects, that sharp little horn riff, and it is off and running with signature Golub guitar licks, some slammin' keyboard from Mitch Foreman and crowd sounds and claps reminiscent of David Sanborn's “Bang Bang.” “On The Wes Side” is atmospheric and cool. “Metro Cafe” and “Have You Heard” are both anchored by a bluesy Steely Dan groove but with its acoustic bass opening and jazzy horns “Metro Cafe” is subdued and cool. “Have You Heard” features some fierce guitar licks. “Take Me Home“ is flat out low down blues-rock punctuated by a solid horn section. Golub plays acoustic and electric guitars on “Just for You,” a ballad that will bring on a Jeff Beck flashback to anyone who came into this music via fusion and rock. “Cream and Sugar” features a very identifiable Euge Groove sax line woven seamlessly around a guitar lead that sounds raw, jagged and absolutely fresh layered into Brown's trademark studio sound. “Silhouette” opens with the little wah-wah sound that has become Brown's calling card but again the guitar lines are a giveaway... on this CD even the smooth stuff rocks. “Evolution” is the tightest, fastest and catchiest song on the CD. “Temptation” has the trendy lounge thing going on, icy cool with the standard female whispers in the background. It's an interesting setting for blues-tinged electric guitar and much more appealing than generic chill. “Simple Pleasures,” the radio hit, closes out the album with an irresistible hook.
Temptation is a rarity; outside of Larry Carlton you don't hear much electric guitar that isn't Benson-derivative in smooth jazz. Golub played with Billy Squier in the early 80s and spent years in Rod Stewart's touring band. Even in the most subdued settings the rock flavor stands out. This is a headphones required CD, too. It sounds great in the car or in the living room but when you put the headphones on and turn it up all those subtle, fast guitar things that nobody but Golub dares to bring into this genre will jump out and amaze you. It's all original instrumental music too. No covers, vocals or lite jazz shuffle, this one bridges the gap between contemporary and smooth quite nicely and it doesn't sound like anything else out there.
- Shannon West