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Steve Cole: Between Us

Steve Cole sets himself apart from the droves of fluttering, over-ornamenting sax players on Between Us; he presents a distinctively lyrical, warm voice on alto, tenor and soprano alike. This instantly attractive style distinguishes otherwise typical uptempo urban groove tunes like “Got It Goin’ On,” and melt-your-heart romantically renders click-track ballads like “For Your Love.” Many of the tracks reflect producer Brian Culbertson’s late night synthesizer sweep style, but Cole really swings out on unique pieces like “Waterfalls,” a rousing, optimistic song that simmers with layered horns. Other highlights include the gospel-funk flavored “Together Again,” with a skeletal arrangement that highlights Ricky Peterson’s purring Hammond, Cole’s tenor and Chicago singer Tim “T.J.” Jackson’s dynamic vocals, and the instantly hummable “From the Start,” which finds Cole’s horn stepping out sweet and low, like a first-class baritone vocalist. If Cole continues to take risks and explores textured arrangements, like the Hammond-accented, horn-chorale feel on “Take Me Home to You,” and avoid typical, tired cuts (i.e., the album’s washed-out title track), his next album could be something truly distinctive.

Originally Published