Chuck Yamek: Feels So Right

A sought-after sideman who has played with artists ranging from Eric Clapton to Richard Elliot to former teen-pop star Tiffany, guitarist Chuck Yamek steps into the spotlight with Feels So Right (Riviera), a collection of easygoing smooth-jazz tunes. Yamek’s sound seems to have been shaped at least somewhat by Wes Montgomery, whose influence can be heard on compositions like “Thumbs” and the title track. Most of the tunes on this album are pretty laidback, although a few do raise the tempo a bit, notably the album’s strongest track, “Seawind,” which features some deft guitar-piano-sax interplay. Other highlights include the lighthearted “A Little Latin Fiesta” and the energetic “Boppin’ Around.” The album’s biggest shortcoming, though, is that most of the songs lack memorable melodic hooks and begin to sound the same after a while. Yamek possesses a cool, attractive sound, but some stronger melodies would really help establish him as a distinctive voice on the smooth-jazz scene.