by Brian CulbertsonBrian Culbertson


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On Dreams, Brian Culbertson attempts to dig further into the vein he opened on 2010's XII, where he seamlessly married adult-oriented R&B to contemporary jazz. In fact, Dreams feels like a bookend of sorts. He employs an alternating cast of studio aces who include Alex Al, John "Jubu" Smith, Eric Marienthal, Michael Stever, Ray Parker, Jr., Rex Rideout, and Rob "Fonksta" Bacon, as well as a trio of vocalists: Stokley Williams (Mint Condition), Vivian Green, and Noel Gourdin. There are some stellar numbers here, including the Williams vehicle, "No Limits," a midtempo babymaker. Culbertson's acoustic piano, Smith's guitar, and some pronounced loops ride atop the bassline to frame the singer's mellifluous tenor. This cut is the sweet spot where neo-soul, adult R&B, and contemporary jazz create a classy pop sound. Green's moment, "Still Here," juxtaposes her taut vocal against acoustic piano and Rideout's fat synth bass with an insistent loop. The result is dramatic. Opening instrumental "Later Tonight" features some nice horn work from Marienthal, Stever -- and Culbertson on trombone -- and very fine guitar from Bacon. Its melody is instantly recognizable with the horns being used sparely but effectively in the mix. "In the City" may be the strongest of the instrumentals, with a deep bass groove and chugging, almost dubwise, rhythm. Here too, the horns fill the backdrop as Smith's guitar accents the bassline. All of these cuts are in the first half of the album. "You're My Music," sung by Gourdin, is a nice soul-pop bubbler and the title track, with its infectious melody and contrasting acoustic and electric guitars, offers a wonderful palette of textures. The three closing instrumentals, however, are less distinguishable. They seem to blunt the impact of the set's previous cuts rather than provide the kind of balance -- one suspects -- Culbertson was looking to create. As "Chapter Two" of XII, this works well, but as an album, Dreams doesn't reach its predecessor's heights.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/12/2012
Label: Verve
UPC: 0602537024223
catalogNumber: 001684202
Rank: 7663


  1. Later Tonight
  2. No Limits
  3. Your Smile
  4. Still Here
  5. In the City
  6. You're My Music
  7. Dreams
  8. Madelena
  9. Lights Off
  10. The Journey

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Brian Culbertson   Primary Artist,Bass,Percussion,Piano,Trombone,Keyboards,Synthesizer Bass,Finger Snapping,Hammond B3
Michael Thompson   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,E-bow
Alex Al   Bass
Vivian Green   Vocals
Bob Horn   Horn Engineer
Eric Marienthal   Bass Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Ray Parker   Rhythm Guitar
Rex Rideout   Keyboards,Synthesizer Bass
Stokley   Drums
Marc Antoine   Acoustic Guitar
Taj Jackson   Background Vocals
Rob "Fonksta" Bacon   Guitar
Michael Stever   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Noel Gourdin   Vocals
John "Jubu" Smith   Guitar

Technical Credits

Michael Thompson   Engineer
Brian Culbertson   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Engineer,Executive Producer,drum programming
Vivian Green   Composer
Garry Kief   Management
Rex Rideout   Arranger,Composer,Engineer,drum programming
Marc Antoine   Engineer
Taj Jackson   Composer,Vocal Producer
Scott Steiner   Engineer
Vartan   Art Direction
Dahlia Ambach Caplin   Executive Producer
Michelle Culbertson   Executive Producer
Lloyd Johnson   Photo Assistance
Michael Stever   Horn Arrangements
David Britz   Management
Larry Shields   Booking

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