In Your Own Timeby Eric Frazier
Soul-jazz (or as jazz critic Scott Yanow calls it, "rhythm & jazz") has existed in many different forms over the years, ranging from the tenor sax honkers of the late '40s and early '50s to the Jimmy Smith-influenced organ combos of the late '50s and '60s, to Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn and the Crusaders in the '70s and '80s. But whatever the era, the basic idea behind soul-jazz has remained the same, and that idea is blues and R&B accessibility combined with the improvisatory freedom of jazz. It's an idea that percussionist/singer Eric Frazier obviously favors on In Your Own Time. Parts of this album are relevant to hard bop -- for example, "That's It" -- and parts of it are mindful of modal post-bop (including "Celia"). But whether he is being influenced by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane, James Brown or the Neville Brothers, Frazier always gets his groove on and gives In Your Own Time a lot of soul-jazz appeal. Quite frankly, Frazier is stronger as a bandleader/percussionist than as a singer. He favors an easygoing vocal style that is somewhere between Mose Allison and Charles Brown, although he doesn't have their vocal chops; nonetheless, he pretty much manages to get the job done on catchy numbers like "I'm Impressed" and "The Jazz Spot." The album's weakest vocal offering is the ultra-sentimental "Here to Stay," which is meant to be a tribute to the late Luther Vandross but is saccharine and just plain trite. Thankfully, that track is the only thing on this 2006 release that should be avoided. In Your Own Time has many more pluses than minuses, and it is a generally enjoyable demonstration of soul-jazz's enduring power.
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- ERIC FRAZIER PROD
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