Personnel: Jim Adkins (acoustic & electric guitars); Rob Holmes (soprano & tenor saxophones); Dan LaMaestra (keyboards); Ken Navarro (acoustic & electric guitars); Gary Grainger (bass); Blues Webb (drums); Kevin Prince (percussion).
Recorded at Positive Music Studios, Ellicott City, Maryland in Fall 2001.
The hard part about entering the smooth jazz arena with great music and expectations and a new name is that, no matter your talent, you're going to have to suffer against all the attention given to the latest brilliant efforts by Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton. Guitarist Ken Navarro has a knack for introducing some great talent on his Positive Music label, and Adkins -- whose label debut is produced by Navarro -- deserves a shot to play against the big boys. It's nothing terribly innovative, just well-played acoustic and electric melodies (sometimes with a swirl of both guitars), solid grooves, and -- matching the implied spirituality of the liner notes -- tasty touches of gospel (as on the crisp blues meditation "Get Over It"). The gentle Brazilian-tinged balm of "Just Chillin'" offers a simple taste of exotica. Most of the other tracks are of the picture-perfect smooth jazz variety, all well played and easy to hum along to with radio-friendly foremost on the mind. The best of these are the spirited title-track opener, the breezy acoustic funk gem "Into the Storm," and the thoughtful, kickback "Wind Dancing." Most of the tracks find a comfortable mid-tempo niche, but the closer, "Serenity," offers a nice cool down after higher levels of excitement. His challenge will never be making great music; it's finding airplay and consumer awareness among the monsters who've been dominating the charts for years. ~ Jonathan Widran