Session keyboardist and composer Sunnie Paxson has ardently backed artists such as Harvey Mason, John Patitucci, Larry Carlton, Stanley Clarke and many others for years. Now, after a near-lifetime of living in the shadows of other players, it's Paxson's time to shine with her debut CD, Groove Suite. The results, however, are decidedly mixed.
Paxson shows a real knack for conceiving catchy, contemporary, toe-tapping tunes such as "Save It for Me," the title track and "The Goose Is Loose, but her soloing is surprisingly unimaginative for a keyboardist who went to Berklee and Philadelphia College of Performing Arts. Only the slow building "Sofie's Blues" shows a hint of improvisational prowess in her playing. Perhaps tellingly, Paxson enlists some the best soloists on the contemporary scene, with Clarke spicing up a cover of "Do It ('Til Your Satisfied)" and Carlton superbly supplying funky licks on "The Stroll."
Groove Suite would be a lot more enjoyable if the potential-filled Paxson had the solo chops to keep up with her guest stars.