by Andrew D. Gordon and Frank Villafranca
A review by Skip Spratt
Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves written Andrew D. Gordon and Frank Villafranca offers the smooth jazz sax lovers out there an abundance of material for study and play-along. The attractive book and CD set released by A.D.G. Productions should keep many pop-oriented sax players busy while honing their skills in this specialized style.
“Smooth Jazz” has been a staple and top seller in the jazz world for nearly two decades. Prior to the advent of “Smooth Jazz” there were saxophonists such as David Sanborn, Eric Marienthal and Grover Washington who were feeding the “Adult Contemporary” charts year after year. With a deep understanding of this music, Gordon and Villafranca have done a formidable job of representing this music here in Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves.
Each track is actually several shorter examples of the improvised and then transcribed solos played by Frank Villafranca. It is interesting to note that whether by design or not, Villafranca plays very much in the same style and manner as colossus saxophonist Eric Marienthal. Although Marienthal is in a class by himself, Villafranca offers a reverent characterization of Eric Marienthal’s well-known and emulated style.
At the conclusion of each of the 20 tracks and examples are some scales and patterns for study. The largely pentatonic and blues based examples serve to break down and explain the melodic content to the reader.
Lastly, and of particular note are the optional extended midi tracks supplied with this publication. I was able to drag and drop the midi files directly into Sibelius, Finale and presumably any other midi-friendly application. With access to the midi files, anyone would be able to create their own play-alongs with their favorite sounds or even in different keys.
Andrew D. Gordon and A.D.G. Productions have done a fine job of compiling this information in and attractive and accessible package. Many a smooth jazz aficionado will appreciate this collection in print and on CD.
You can learn more about Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves and A.D.G. Productions at http://www.adgproductions.com/