Burgeoning smooth jazz superstar Steve Cole continues to bridge the gap between pop-jazz and classic R&B on his third studio album, NY LA. Featuring strong melodic statements and truly funky keyboards via the likes of Brian Culbertson and Marquis "Hami" Dair, NY LA is a moody and solid affair. From the disco-influenced "Off Broadway," which harkens back to the best work of the Crusaders, to the Donald Byrd-esque "Interlude IV," tenor saxophonist Cole deftly crosses the boundary from jazz soloist to R&B heavyweight. More Grover Washington, Jr. than Kenny G., Cole manages to keep things organic and simple -- despite the use of programmed drum beats and synthesizers -- a lesson some of his contemporaries could learn. Also adding depth are the vocal tracks featuring the crisply soulful Mauli B., whose star-making performance on "Every Little Thing" is a highlight on this already stellar release.