When life gets dull, there is always a temptation to step
outside the box. After all, why stick with the tried-and-true when there are
new avenues to explore, new roads to travel, and different ways to express oneself?
It's the same with music, which is why Jeff Golub's Narada
debut, "Temptation" is so, well, tempting. It's a disc full of the
bluesy guitar lines, funky R&B grooves, and pop / rock sensibilities that
have defined Jeff Golub's solo career as a contemporary jazz guitarist and as
a first-rate session player. At the same time, "Temptation" finds
him taking his sound outside the box, retaining his trademark blues-drenched
guitar lines while pushing the sonic boundaries of his music.
"Temptation" is a project of firsts. It is Golub's
first for the Narada Jazz label, and his first collaboration with Grammy®
- winning producer Paul Brown (known for his work with Boney James, George Benson,
and Al Jarreau). "Temptation" is also Golub's first to feature guest
saxophonist and label mate Euge Groove, his first to have a song arranged by
keyboard player Brian Culbertson, as well as his first to boast horn charts
by noted arranger Jerry (Hay) Hey.
It also finds Golub navigating previously uncharted waters,
as several tracks find him laying down smooth, blues-influenced lines over European-inspired
chill-out tracks, weaving blue melodies within the distinctly hip and modern
songs. Let's just say that this direction wasn't planned, it resulted from the
meeting of two distinct artistic minds. Both Brown and Golub are guitarists,
and as such they have many similar - and different - influences.
"Paul has a strong track record as a producer, and what
he brought to "Temptation" sounds different from the approach I used
on my previous records," says Golub. "At the same time, as guitarists,
there are a lot of similar things that we like to hear in music. By combining
a European-chill type sound on some of the tracks with my bluesy guitar, it
gave us an interesting sound that sounds like me, yet different from what you
generally hear in the smooth jazz genre."
That enticing blues-meets-chill sound can be heard on tracks
such as "Cream And Sugar", which features Euge Groove. While the song's
retro melody has the comfortably familiar feel of seventies soul jazz, Brown's
production places the tune firmly on the cutting edge. There's also the disc's
title track, with its distinctly European (Eastern Bloc melodies that are) feel
that’s given a familiar American flavor courtesy of Golub's robust blues
Elsewhere, "Temptation" showcases the jazz, blues
and pop / rock sounds that have earmarked Jeff Golub's smooth jazz solo career.
"Temptation's" opening cut, "Uptown Express", is the prototypical
Golub cut, a track that he describes as a "Live in the studio (Latin boogaloo)
souljazz. I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan," the guitarist explains,
"so I take the uptown express train every day, and the song kind of hints
at that kind of underground, New York City vibe."
There is also (Wes Side ) "On The Wes Side", a nod
to both Golub’s Manhattan's West Side home and to one of (Golub's) his
favorite jazz musicians, guitarist Wes Montgomery. "I was trying to get
something that reminded me of Wes' tune "Bumpin' On Sunset", that
sort of groove that (goes on forever), just keeps simmering along, but with
an updated, modern sound" explains Golub. New York City is again referenced
on Metro Café, a jazzy, Latin-tinged tune named for the Manhattan's Metropolitan
Café, a popular restaurant and local musician hangout. Mostly cut live
in the studio, the tune showcases longtime Golub cohorts Steve Ferrone (drums),
Mitch Forman (keyboards) and Dave Carpenter (upright bass).
Golub brings both the blues and the funk to the fore on "Take
Me Home", a turn-it-up-to-ten vehicle for his smoldering guitar work. Still,
"Temptation" would not be a Jeff Golub CD without at least one gentle
romantic number, in the form of "Just For You". Beauty to "Take
Me Home's" beast, "Just For You" showcases the sophisticated,
late night vibe that Golub loves to pull out of his six string trick bag.
"Temptation" closes out with "Simple Pleasures",
which is the first track from the disc to go to radio. Here, Golub reminds us
that all the cool vibes and dynamic chops in the world mean nothing without
a good hook and a strong melody. Smooth, sophisticated and set to a decidedly
urban groove, the song's unforgettable melody is sung by Golub's guitar in unison
with fluegelhorn and tenor saxophone. It's a classy, fitting ending to Golub's
latest aural "Temptation".
Born in Akron, Ohio, Jeff Golub studied at the Berklee College
of Music before moving to New York City at the dawn of the 1980s. He achieved
notoriety amongst both his peers and music fans as the guitarist in Billy Squier's
band from 1980 -1985. He then became a sought-after sideman and studio guitarist,
and, after a stint playing alongside former J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf,
he joined Rod Stewart's band in 1988. Golub held down the guitar chair with
Stewart until 1995, when he left to concentrate on a solo career.
Golub initially laid the groundwork for his solo career in
1988, with the release of "Unspoken Words", his first project under
his own name. Upon leaving Stewart, Golub established himself at the forefront
of contemporary jazz with the collective project "Avenue Blue", a
moniker under which three releases were issued. Golub's transition to solo artist
was completed in 1999 with the release of the appropriately titled "Out
of the Blue". His 2000 release "Dangerous Curves" spent 12 weeks
in the top 20 of Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, and gave the
guitarist both a No. 1 and No. 2 NAC single.
In 2002, Golub released "Do It Again", which (peaked
at #8 on Billboard's chart). The disc found Golub remaking many of his favorite
classic R&B songs, including) included his take on the Average White Band's
"Cut The Cake" ( which). The song spent a total of six weeks as the
#1 most played song on NAC radio.
2003 brought the release of "Souls Sessions". A recording
with a live in the studio sound. Both, "Do It Again" and "Soul
Sessions", made it to the top 10 of Billboards Contemporary Jazz sales
Last year, Golub briefly rejoined Rod Stewart for a series
of live dates, performing both standards and classic rock songs from the singer's
own catalogue. That's Golub playing guitar on the DVD, "Rod Stewart - Live
at Royal Albert Hall".
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