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Jaared: Addiction

Jaared is a talented saxophonist who prefers the alto and performs almost daily around his Maryland hometown while occasionally touring with guitarist Peter White. But on his first CD since 2002’s Hang Time, which was an often raw and challenging work, it’s obvious he’s been seduced by a rote smooth-jazz sensibility that diminishes a work that nonetheless has plenty to crow about. Addiction is produced and co-written by U.K. keyboardist Oli Silk, whose debut solo CD in 2006 was one of the year’s best and sparkled with originality and a deep groove. So it’s surprising that much of Addiction falls flat. In fact, the best song here, “Deuces Wild,” is a tune featuring Jaared that’s already been packaged on Silk’s CD.

While the best smooth-jazz offers hooks aplenty and unrestrained playing outside and over those hooks, Jaared unfortunately only achieves the latter. Although a cover of Earl Klugh’s “Jamaican Winds” scores with Steve Oliver on guitar, the best songs here are actually those with vocals. “Piccadilly Circus” is a way-uptempo tune showcasing Jaared’s vocalese talents. And “You Like Me Don’t You,” a cover of a Jermaine Jackson gem, would fit snugly into the Urban AC format, Jaared’s lead vocals appealingly vulnerable and not at all pitchy.

Originally Published