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Tom Grant: Life Is Good

Pianist Tom Grant, a onetime heavy in the smooth-jazz realm, has spent much of the new decade crafting low-key jazz and jazz-and-vocal records. He finds plenty of gigs in and around his Portland, Ore., home, and is a familiar presence there. Grant’s first smooth CD in almost a decade is a welcome return to the genre.

But the pianist is back on his own terms, which he gets away with since, like many in this topsy-turvy time, he runs his own record label. The CD highlights Grant’s attraction to the lean bossa nova feel of the 1960s with “Cool Shoes,” “Regarding You” and “Easy Landing.” His easy understanding of the smooth genre is apparent in “Utopia,” an uptempo number with floating vocalese and dynamic rhythm. But two songs, “Mysterious Smile” and “In My Body … Out of My Mind,” are updates of previous works that feature the new-age-mixed-with-jazz feel that Grant’s been composing of late. Like “In My Body … Out of My Mind,” “Garden of Sublime Enchantment” is a solo piece, while “Gold” is a captivating vocal with robust vocalist Shelly Rudolph.

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