Saxophonist Art Sherrod, Jr. has a way with making music that radiates positive vapors. His second CD, Seasons is a buffet of urban-pop, smooth soul and R&B/funk with grooves that speak in the modern dialect of love. Sherrod isn’t shy about revealing his emotions through his music. He lets audiences know exactly how he feels as he uses the saxophone to channel his thoughts and essence. Produced by Sherrod and co-produced by his drummer Eric Valentine, keyboardist Lorenzo Johnson, bassist Chip Shearin, and guitarist/programmer Chuck Loeb, Seasons has a smooth jazz polish that features some of the genre’s finest musicians including bassists Gerald Albright and Dwayne “Smitty” Smith, vocalists Will Downing, Tracy Hamlin, and Frank McComb in addition to guitarist U-Nam. Morning, noon, or night, the music on Seasons has the right recipe for feeling good.
“To The Floor” and the title track are up-tempo numbers adorned with dance grooves bound by the tousling action of guitar chords and the sleek thrusts of Sherrod’s saxophone which clutch an uplifting vibe. The album switches gears with the smooth soul crests of “Thinking Of You” and the soft R&B/funk texture of “Just Chillin’.” Written for his wife, Georgia, “You’re The One” features the beautiful vocal stylizing of Tracy Hamlin singing lyrics that resonate of Sherrod’s voicing, “You’re so fine, I can’t take my eyes off of you… you know you are the only one for me.” The romantic ballad “Everything Will Be Alright” intensifies this sentiment with silky saxophone strands that expresses what only the heart can say. The gospel-tint of “On Sunday Morning” amplifies the smooth funk grooves, and the R&B vibe of “East Coast Steppin’” makes for a reverent tribute to saxophonist Grover Washington.
Sherrod’s rendition of Earth, Wind And Fire’s classic tune “That’s The Way Of The World” has an ambient feel with soaring saxophone notes fanning out and retracting as the soft glittering synth effects shower over the coasting grooves. Sherrod tells about the song “Anytime” in a recent press release, “Sometimes it’s lovely when you’re out on the road and you just need a song that speaks to you and brings you close to your family since they are so far away.” Reflective of fireside-inspired R&B/jazz, singer Frank McComb gives “Anytime” a personalized touch. The soft funk instep of “Smooth Groove” is wrapped in Sherrod’s curvaceous saxophone wails and pivoting piano keys played by Marcus Johnson. The classic gospel tune “We Fall Down” made popular by Donnie McClurkin, has an inspirational sonorous as Sherrod’s saxophone takes flight and stays uplifted throughout the track making swirling aerials that direct the melodic course.
Art Sherrod, Jr. is right up there with such smooth jazz forerunners as Kirk Whalum, Tom Braxton, and Darren Rahn. Seasons is an album that never fails to hold up spirits and maintain a positive vibe. The recording is a personal piece manifested from Sherrod’s thoughts and emotions. The songs are a testament to Sherrod’s love for his family, colleagues and community, and it never falters off this course.
More Articles by Susan Frances
More Articles in Community Articles
SFJAZZ Collective at the Ferguson Center in Newport News, Va.
Best of the Best for 2013
London-Based Label RareNoiseRecords Presents a Night of Progressive Music at Shapeshifter Lab, Dec. 13 at 8PM
Preparing For Fame
Kathryn Ballard Shut
New England Conservatory’s Jazz Lab
Tributes continue year after University of the Pacific alumnus Dave Brubeck’s death