Tim Bowman: Smile

Whether picking lyrical, melodic lines or sweeping through jazz-toned chordings in the mode of Earl Klugh, guitarist Tim Bowman has an upbeat, sweet sound designed to evoke a Smile (Insync ISD 4062; 53:40). The Detroit-based Bowman, who also helms keyboards and programming, shines brightest when his guitar work is at the forefront. Prime examples include the light, sunny grooves of “Happiness Is,” with its chorusey, sweet soul center, and the appealing, gospel tonic title track, which finds Bowman’s leads offset nicely by David McMurray’s saxophone. “Columbus, GA,” a bright, ’70s-soulful piece drives lively with organ touches and Jesse McGuire’s pinched mute trumpet, while “Flyin’ Away” resonates with low-down bass, for a dreamy quality. Other tracks, particularly some of the ballads, mask the frontman’s talents with a lather of keyboard goop, but those missteps are quickly forgotten with the onset of “Watch Out,” a brisk, vigorously melodic piece in the mode of Steely Dan, which showcases both the spindly and jazzy sides of Bowman’s guitar personality.