Some artists can only exist as opening acts and sidemen for so long before rising to the surface in a glorious sheen that dares one to ignore them. Working the soprano and alto saxes like he is part of those instruments--and playing all other instruments on this project, by the way--Aaron Bing comes to us with Secret Place, this time via Century Records, in a blaze of personality and charm. Having cranked out two other tight albums (Christmas Dream?a compilation of some of the season?s favorites--and Always), this cat is no newcomer to smooth jazz, as is clearly evidenced in this production.
Bing may actually be known to many as the artist who appeared on the The Late Show with David Letterman to be recognized for his part in a Guinness World Record challenge. His feat? Holding a note for 39 minutes and 40 seconds! Although that didn't beat the Kenny G 1997 record of 45 minutes, 47 seconds, it certainly should be sufficient for notoriety. Bing also claims proficiency on 20 instruments, excluding the alto and soprano saxes, and is self-taught on 16 of them. I should think this qualifies him as being quite dedicated to his craft.
Using only the freshest of fresh material, Bing exhibits such mastery of the art of composition and combines it with a bouncy, swaying style in places and a sultry pace in others--not unlike that of one of his early influences, Kenny G, as well as one of my favorites, Paul Taylor.
Often, skill and style are lost in the shuffle when joined with material that smacks of mediocrity. No mediocrity here. There is no doubt that this artist?s material is at home in the smooth jazz genre, and quite a few of his cuts could easily find their way to mainstream radio?s airwaves. Bing?s material and style should easily allow him to maintain the tradition of quality smooth jazz in a way that thoroughly pleases all of the common aficionados and inside movers and shakers. Sounding like other artists compliments those other artists, but if you can accomplish the difficult task of establishing a thumbprint, a signature of some sort somewhere in the vastness of this genre, you can consider yourself on the right path. Bing, with his well-conceived compositions and pleasant hooks, should consider himself there.
Oh, make no mistake, visions of Kenny G abound plentifully, but Bing manages to make such references complement him rather than define him. That much is evident in such compositions as ?Dominica,? a spry, melodic, and fluid piece full of presence and exoticism, and the solid, rhythmic mid-tempo ?Joyful,? which is quite appropriately named (just listen to the energy and fervor with which Bing expresses himself on this one). Others of note are the beautiful title track, which caresses you with that familiar touch of blue soul and spirit (the alluring strings are subtle yet outstanding in their presence here) and the hot and funky ?Keep It Movin?.?
Aaron Bing has seized the moment with this release, a moment he and all who follow him will relive over and over again. Like a gently blowing breeze, his sound washes over you with a profound calm, leaving you content and seeking more.