Saxophonist Grady Nichols exhibits a melodic, easygoing smooth-jazz sound on Sophistication (Grady Nichols Ltd.). Keyboardist Jeff Lorber produced the album and cowrote all of the tracks, and his grooving arrangements place the spotlight squarely on Nichols. On "Sneak," the groove gently supports Nichols' sly sax, while a jangly rhythm underpins "Quiet Times" without overwhelming the sweet melody. Nichols gets sassy on the funky, horn-accented "Livin' the Life," while "Dinner and a Movie" evokes a late-night feel, as does "End of the Night," which features some lovely harmonizing between Nichols and trumpeter Chris Botti.
This is a likeable, though unremarkable, smooth-jazz album; Nichols isn't breaking any new ground here, but Sophistication is sure to find favor with smooth-jazz fans.