Technically, 23-year-old sax phenom Eric Darius has already started: He’s now three CDs into his career. But heck, he is still in college. And he’s on the fast track to smooth-jazz stardom, having spent the past year touring as keyboardist Brian Culbertson’s sexy sax guy. Culbertson is on board for Just Getting Started as a player and producer, as are Paul Brown and Euge Groove. Thrown in veterans Jeff Lorber, Ron Reinhardt, Paul Jackson Jr., Tony Maiden and Oscar Seaton, and you’ve got a CD guaranteed to make noise. Darius and friends deliver catchy, radio-friendly pop-jazz right out of the gate with “Steppin’ Up” and they don’t let up ’til the last notes of “Slick.” On his own compositions “That’s What I’m Sayin'” and “Groove On,” Darius displays a freewheelin’ style that favors tough playing over sweet melodies. Refreshing.
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