3rd Force gives its trademark grooving sound an energy boost on Driving Force (Higher Octave). The popular smooth-jazz outfit started performing live as a band a few years ago and decided to reproduce the energy of their live performances in their studio work. “Real Thing” weaves together horns, Brazilian rhythms and electronic effects, while “Gotta Gotta” is a high-octane, horn-soaked jam spotlighting newcomer saxophonist Eric Darius. 3rd Force’s albums always feature guest appearances by many of smooth jazz’s biggest stars, and this time, guitarists Marc Antoine and Brian Hughes and saxophonist Tom Scott join the party. Hughes’ jazzy ax shines on the urban-edged opener “Believe in Me,” while Antoine offers graceful guitar on the moody “You Got It,” and the rollicking “Get With It” features a boisterous performance from Scott, who multitracked his horns to create a horn section that backs him with a rapid-fire machine-gun rhythm. The album closes with the haunting, hypnotic “Inside,” which features soft-voiced Nepali singer Rashmi and Nepali flutist Reuben Shresthna floating through an evocative and atmospheric soundscape.