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Reviewed by:
Harvey Cline

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. Time to enjoy a day at the beach and soak up some of these summer rays while getting in a little bit of relaxation. Let’s get packed and head on down. Cooler - check. Sunscreen - check. Sunglasses - check. Easy chair - check. New music - check. New music? I’ve got new music from artists that I want to check out today. Saxophonist Brad Rambur, guitarist Craig Sharmat, and keyboardist Bryant Thompson will make for a nice day of enjoyment and a change of pace. They are three that have come across my desk recently, and I think they’re ones that you will enjoy.

I’ve got the chair out and the cooler by my side. Time for a little sunscreen, and then I’ll push play as the waves crash just below my feet. Can’t Put It Down is the Eric Marienthal produced release from saxophonist Brad Rambur. This one feels good right away as he slides into “Warm”, which features a lot of Jeff Lorber. It’s only a “warm up” to one that I like a lot called “Chasing the Sun.” Brad’s sax comes across really well along with some funky guitar from Wolf Marshall. This is one you’ll go back and listen to again. “Pinnacle” slows down the pace somewhat, before launching another Lorber tune called “Aruba.” Jeff adds more to “Sidesteppin” that features more of Rambur’s sax. It’s easy to feel the influence of the producer here and Lorber adds some nice keys for another one that you will enjoy as well. “Danielle” is a soulful number from his soprano that leads into the optimistic “Into The Blue” featuring Lorber once again. “This Masquerade” is a nice remake of the George Benson classic featuring the vocals of Linda Hill. He finishes up with a Kenny Burrell tune “Chitlins Con Carne” that is a lot of fun. You’ll find the release a good mix through out, and be glad you picked up a copy.

After a quick splash in the water, I pop a top and roll over for some great guitar from Craig Sharmat. The title of this one, Outside In, is only proper as I adjust the settings on my easy chair, and turn up the volume. His sound through out this one is full and the songs all come across very strong in their instrumentation. The opening track, “Bossa Newva” features Phillippe Saisse on piano as this one moves along quiet nicely. I’m enjoying “The Back Nine” as if I were on my favorite course back home, ha! He features a little bit more instrumentation here (featuring Rick Braun) and allows his guitar to shine throughout. The volleying with saxophonist Mark Hollingsworth makes you want to go back and play this one again. “Ease Up” has a calypso feel to it which is really nice out here on the beach. It leads into the title track which is one of the best ones here as Sharmat shines on both guitar and keys. His guitar work comes across clean with some interesting licks. This will be a good one live. “A New Day” changes the pace and is more reflective in its approach, while “Repo City” has the influences of Tower of Power as the layers of sound are added for a nice mix. Hollingsworth’s sax adds some good background while Sharmat’s guitar soars along with Braun’s trumpet once more. They slow it down again for “Nite Moves” that features Braun’s muted trumpet. The “moves” here are very entertaining, and there’s a lot going on. “Saint’s” is a fun approach to a classic while “Something About You” is a nice cover arrangement of a Level 42 hit. He finishes with the reflective “Amber Fields” that is beautifully arranged and a nice closer.

The tide is coming in, and the waves are getting closer. So I need to pull my chair back a little further and check out Puzzle Pieces from keyboardist Bryant Thompson. His opening track “Movado” moves along at a nice pace featuring some nice muted trumpet from Joe Gransden and nylon guitar from Dan Baraszu. This leads into “Reflections of Time” which is slows the pace down somewhat with some nice piano. “Selah” is one that I like and features some good sax from Mike Burton. The pace quickens on “Stargazing” as Thompson’s keys are a nice background for the soprano of Mace Hibbard. It’s all piano for “Love Notes” and the notes here come off really well and showcase the artist’s range. “Free Your Mind” brings in some nice bass before going into the funky little “Shadowboxer” featuring Eric Essix on guitar. The pace stays up for “Japonica Avenue” as Thompson hits the keys once more and features Ron James on sax. He finishes the “puzzle” with a nice closer featuring his whole band called “Perfect Timing.” It’s a fun one to go out on.

It looks like the sun is making its way down, and it’s about time to pack up the chair and cooler and head back in. I’ve enjoyed new music today from three artists you may not have heard of yet. Be sure to look at them and try some of their new music. Who knows, you may be bringing them back down to the beach with you too in the near future. Have a wonderful summer, and don’t forget the sunscreen!