Endless Highway

Endless Highway

by Tom Braxton
     
 
It isn't hard to understand why smooth jazz has been the whipping boy of everyone from fusion guitarists to Dixieland cornetists to free jazz firebrands to the neo-classicist Young Lions of hard bop and post-bop. A lot of smooth jazz -- not all of it, but a lot of it -- has been appallingly devoid of creativity. Nonetheless, it's best to judge smooth jazz on an

Overview

It isn't hard to understand why smooth jazz has been the whipping boy of everyone from fusion guitarists to Dixieland cornetists to free jazz firebrands to the neo-classicist Young Lions of hard bop and post-bop. A lot of smooth jazz -- not all of it, but a lot of it -- has been appallingly devoid of creativity. Nonetheless, it's best to judge smooth jazz on an album-by-album basis instead of condemning smooth jazz in general. That brings us to Tom Braxton's Endless Highway, which favors the more R&B-minded side of smooth jazz. Endless Highway has some positive attributes; Braxton is a skillful tenor, alto and soprano saxophonist, and this 2009 release isn't just an album of mindless elevator music. But Endless Highway could have been much better. Braxton offers his share of likable grooves; the problem is that most of the time, this CD is a victim of its own production. The disc's producers, who include Tim Gant, Eric Willis, Jay Rowe and Braxton himself, all have a tendency to overproduce. Braxton isn't given nearly enough room to stretch out and improvise, and his saxophone playing is smothered by the excessive production. Of course, heavily produced albums definitely have their place -- technology has been a major asset in electronica and hip-hop -- but jazz, as a rule, is better served by a more organic production style. That is true of straight-ahead jazz (be it hard bop, post-bop, Dixieland, swing, avant-garde jazz or cool jazz), and it's also true of a crossover disc like Endless Highway -- which is so overproduced and overarranged that most of Braxton's solos never really go anywhere. Braxton simmers, but opportunities to burn are few and far between. Again, Endless Highway isn't a bad album. But Braxton is capable of much more.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/06/2009
Label:
Pacific Coast Jazz
UPC:
0829166811059
catalogNumber:
81105
Rank:
131174

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tom Braxton   Primary Artist,Flute,Piano,Keyboards,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Joe Ninowski   Percussion,Loops
Arthur Dyer   Vocals,Background Vocals
Tim Gant   Keyboards
Jay Rowe   Keyboards
Larry Spencer   Trumpet
Gerey Johnson   Guitar
Don Bozman   Trombone
Len Barnett   Percussion
Selinza Mitchell   Background Vocals
Pete Branham   Alto Saxophone
Derrick "Domino" Winding   Guitar
Eric Willis   Keyboards
Braylon Lacy   Bass,Fretless Bass Guitar
Jason Thomas   Drums

Technical Credits

Tom Braxton   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer
Dewey Bunnell   Composer
Tim Gant   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer
Jay Rowe   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer
Patrick McGuire   Engineer
Joey Lomas   Engineer
Eric Willis   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer

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