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Jay Rowe: Jay Walking

On Jay Walking (Positive Music PMD 78030-2; 48:26) pianist/composer Jay Rowe delivers some sweet, upbeat melodies with a warm, spindly-fingered style. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in aiming for radio-friendly, smooth jazz-styled arrangements, Rowe often finds his thoughtful centers overpowered and de-humanized. A typical example of this effect comes on “Whatever Your Heart Desires,” with a busy, pumping programmed rhythm track which sucks the warmth right out of Rowe’s sparkling play. Likewise, “Taylor’s Song” has an uplifting refrain and anthemic quality which is couched in a syrupy-thick arrangement. Light-touch arrangements better match his style on shining moments like “Boat Ride,” which benefits from David Mann’s buoyant presence on sax, and “Letter to Dad,” which is a touching, spare arrangement with a meditative hook. Rowe proves a fine writer and performer throughout Jay Walking, and only lacks a setting which makes those talents truly soar.

Originally Published