Smooth It Out – Rick Habana (ft. Paul Brown) reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I’m not one to venture into the territory of smooth jazz all that often, but as the sunlight streams through into the office dappling the keyboard and my view through the window is one of green trees, blue skies and the slight haze as the heat hits the tarmac, Smooth It Out feels like the only track that fits the moment. I may be half a world away from its point of origin but the message it delivers, as much through its emotional vibe as its lyrical connection, is clear.

This is music with sunshine woven into its DNA, built from blends of spacious piano, and Paul Brown’s deft and tasteful guitar work, breezy, relaxing brass and gorgeous, drifting vocals. As always with music in this territory, it is about groove and space, and Rick Habanadelivers unlimited supply of both. The backbeat forms contagious rhythms but leaves enough space to hang supple and subtle lead inclusions on but on the understanding that there is enough room for everyone to have their day in the sun.

The result is playing that compliments rather than conflicts, which is deferential to the song rather than the ego, music which, despite the number of instruments employed, still has plenty of space to let the light in… not to mention the warmth of the sun. The summer starts here.

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