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Jazz - Released July 15, 2016 | Artistry Music

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Jazz - Released July 26, 2019 | Artistry Music

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Jazz - Released July 7, 2000 | Atlantic Records

Fast becoming one of smooth jazz's hookiest songwriters, Steve Cole scored two number one radio hits off his 1998 debut, Stay Awhile. No doubt that program directors will continue to favor those tunes, but hopefully it won't be at the expense of the takes-one-listen-only-to-hum craftsmanship of many of the tracks on the follow-up, Between Us (Atlantic). He has the notion of "quick verse, get to the brassy hook" down to such a science that it may take a few listens to realize that the opening two tracks, "Got It Goin' On" and "From the Start" are two different songs. On both, producer Brian Culbertson provides the simmering retro-keyboard atmospheres beneath a silky, laid-back tenor lines but only for brief respites between the perfect choruses, on which Cole textures tenor with multiple alto-backing tracks. Cole sticks with this approach while varying rhythms throughout the disc, as if holding back on us throughout the verse sections and then making sure his hooks are brass-amplified so that we keep wanting him to return to them. He and Culbertson take this technique to new and exciting levels on a slow-simmering cover of TLC's "Waterfalls," texturing a horn section lead melody with another multiple horn harmony section; every few beats, Cole jumps out of the pattern to blow a cool tenor improvisation. Cole is a muscular tenor player by trade but will no doubt attract the mush lovers with his very tender soprano beauty on "For Your Love." © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 17, 2013 | Artistry Music

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Narada

With his trademark robust, in-your-face horn textures, the Chicago-based funky smooth jazz saxman has the rare genre gift of instant recognizability. That same energy sets the vibe on his spiffy, in the pocket Narada Jazz debut , but with a unique twist. Rather than sticking with the heavy urban flavors of the discs that made him an instrumental star, he takes a more singer/songwriter-oriented approach here, drawing from modern rock inspirations like John Mayer, Maroon 5 and Five for Fighting. For this endeavor, which truly is a Spin on the way he has done business in the past, Steve Cole bought his first acoustic guitar and wrote all the songs on it. This instrument and some hypnotic piano at the beginning of the opening track "Thursday" serve the role of organic enhancement to -- rather than replacement for -- his powerful sax thrust, which is dead-on perfect on instant hits like "The Real Me." From there, he takes some cool risks, going the gentle, back porch country-rock route on "Simple Things" (with Ricky Peterson on organ), bluesy on the feisty "Spin" (which may remind listeners of some of Mindi Abair's best guitar-flavored sax cuts), and sweetly melancholic on the heartfelt "A Letter to Laura." The simmering, anthemic southern rocker "I Was Alright" blends the classic Cole horn textures with an aggressive, guitar-driven harmony line. Some say that chillout is the hybrid future of smooth jazz, and the trippy soprano ballad "Serenity" -- which draws its inspiration from Zero 7 -- shows that Cole can also relax and seduce us gently when he likes. The final track "Confounded" was inspired by Beck and breaks up from its straightforward pop/blues vibe for an all-too-short blowing section where Cole breaks loose. A little more of that improvisational fun would have made Spin, already one of the best genre releases of 2005, worth even a few hundred more. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 1, 1998 | Mesa - Bluemoon

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Jazz - Released February 1, 2011 | Artistry Music

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Narada

Even if this Chicago-based saxman has always been one of the most grittily soulful of today's top smooth jazz artists, there's always been the sneaking suspicion on his previous four release that he'd been holding out somewhat -- covering his truest funk-jazz with way too much slick pop sheen. If the title of this superior collection is indicative of the true persona that's here to stay, then genre fans will be in for a powerful adventure. There are none of those right-in-your-face catchy/fluffy pop hooks, at least not right away; a potent live ensemble backs the jumpy, David Sanborn-esque opener "Bounce," which builds to a bluesy jam with wilder playing than usual. "Cote Seine" matches the hot modern chill vibe with some of Steve Cole's most low-key, cool playing ever recorded. Could it be he finally learned that less is more? He finally gets to his trademark horn texturing on "Curtis," but does so in the dreamy, retro-soul spirit of his hometown legend Curtis Mayfield. "Just a Natural Thang" starts with a strong pop hook, but its trappings are loose and bluesy rather than superproduced. Even on the more overtly commercial tracks like the disco-meets-Memphis-driven "Metro," Cole captures the magic of his fiery live performance. "Take Me" reminds us of the lighthearted singer/songwriter vibe of his previous CD Spin -- likeable but a lot less engaging despite a singalong hook. Most artists in smooth jazz achieve success with a certain style and formula and stick with it, lest they alienate radio programmers and fans. Cole has scored many hits while on the road to finding his true voice, and with any luck, he'll stay right there as the perfect antidote to his less imaginative contemporaries. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 6, 2006 | DIGITAL MARKETING GROUP, LLC

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Contemporary Jazz - Released November 14, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Narada Productions, Inc.

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Jazz - Released April 23, 2021 | Artistry Music

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Miscellaneous - Released May 28, 2021 | PuzzleProjectsMusic

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Jazz - Released May 21, 2021 | Artistry Music

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Jazz - To be released June 18, 2021 | Artistry Music

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House - Released December 29, 2014 | Rüttelplatten