Considering that they’ve been making music together for 30 years, it may be surprising to learn that keyboardist James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harmon are still only in their early 40s. They’ve had a long time to perfect their alternately smooth, funky and ballad-driven instrumental music, and they’ve became damn perfect at it. Pieces, named after a Stanley Turrentine song, don’t make the singles charts much these days, but the band has a large fan base that buys its CDs and keeps the record label happy.
The group’s 14th CD is as consistently enjoyable as anything you’d hear under the large smooth-jazz umbrella. Lloyd and Harmon stick to what they’ve been doing successfully for so long but also are wise enough to bring a bit of what the kids are listening to into their work. “House Arrest” and “Forward Emotion” could belong on keys player Brian Culbertson and sax man’s Steve Cole’s latest CDs, respectively, and have more hooks than a salmon boat in Alaska.
The remaining 10 tunes, though, are more in line with Pieces’ bread-and-butter: some female vocal scorchers, a ballad or two (including a loungy take on Christopher Cross’ “Sailing”), some funky stuff and lots of extended piano and sax solos.