With the exception of 1992's Born Again, saxophonist Tom Scott's output for GRP was consistently disappointing. Although obviously a talented player, Scott's willingness to play arrangements whose main goal was to gain radio airplay resulted in commercial and quickly dated music. Scott is heard with smaller groups throughout this 1988 effort, which include keyboardist Randy Kerber and guitarist Dean Parks, plus guest appearances by guitarists Eric Gale and Michael Landau; all this looks promising but is actually quite routine. None of the nine funky originals were infectious enough to catch on; Scott sounds fairly anonymous in spots, particularly when he utilizes a WX-7; and it is obvious that the music was made strictly for the money. At best, this is superior background music
A shamelessly contrived effort, Keep This Love Alive is, for the most part, yet another tremendous waste of Tom Scott's talents. There are a few enjoyable moments here, including guest Dianne Schurr's sensuous vocal on "Whenever You Dream of Me" and Scott's gritty jazz-funk blowing on "Mis Thang." But on the whole, this CD is a throwaway by both jazz and pop standards. R&B/pop singer Brenda Russell is anything but memorable on the bloodless adult-contemporary song "If You're Not the One for Me," and most of the instrumentals would sound boring and lackluster even in a dentist's office. Throwing creativity to the wind, Scott leaves no doubt that his only concern is commercial radio airplay. The saxman recorded more than his share of stinkers for GRP in the 1980s and '90s, and Keep This Love Alive is at the top of the list.
After many years of recording one commercial effort after another, Tom Scott finally recorded a strong jazz set. By using Born Again as the CD's title, Scott sought to demonstrate that he was returning to his roots; unfortunately, this promising direction would only be a one-shot deal. Scott, who was always a strong musician, shows that he had not forgotten how to improvise despite all of his commercial work. He is heard on tenor, alto, and soprano performing seven mostly straight-ahead originals and Wayne Shorter's "Children of the Night."
While most musicians wind up pigeonholed into very strict stylistic trappings throughout their career, Tom Scott has f ound challenges and success playing all formats of jazz on his solo projects and as leader of the GRP All Star Big Band (in the early 90s). It was fun following his muse in the middle of the decade, as he ventured back to his straightahead roots on 1992's Born Again, then was back to the funk on this rousing jam session. Working with old and new friends like Grover Washington, Jr., Paul Jackson, Jr., Dave Witham, David Paich, Luis Conte, Eric Gale and Robben Ford, Scott mixes his own material with some contributions from the outside.
Jacques Rivest was best known as Pollen's vocalist and multi-instrumentalist prior to the release of his first, self-titled solo album in 1979. The LP features Pollen band mates Claude Lemay (keyboards) and Richard Lemoyne (guitar), joined by Daniel Mathieu (bass) and Serge Courchesne (drums/horns). Some of the material is more mainstream, but the acoustic instrumentation lends itself to a folk vibe, and there are some truly progressive moments, as on the Eastern-looking "Voyage au Tibet", as well as the double-keyboard lines and singing, reminiscent of Pollen, found on other tracks. 2006 saw the re-release of Rivest's first solo album, this time on CD, by ProgQuebec. The album is now augmented by a bonus track, taken from a single released about the same time as the original album release.
A cofounder of the tropicalista movement with Veloso, Gil, Bethania, et al., Zé has faded into obscurity as his music becomes more and more experimental and eccentric. This is by far the best Brazilian recording I've ever heard (caveat emptor!), partly because of the gentleness of Zé's weirdness and partly because he sounds so Brazilian even as the other tropicalistas come to associate "avant-garde" with increasingly Pan American pop-soup.
Although Tom Scott recorded one throwaway after another in the 1980s and '90s, he's still quite capable of recording a decent album – which he proved on his 1992 straightahead date Born Again and his 1996 reunion with the L.A. Express, Bluestreak. Spontaneity and inspired blowing are the rules this time. Instead of pandering to smooth jazz radio, Scott lets loose and plays from the heart for a change. The Angelino (who's heard on tenor & soprano sax and flute) avoids smothering this very 1970s-sounding jazz/R&B/pop date with production and gives ample solo space to both himself and such Express alumni as Joe Sample (electric keyboards) and Robben Ford (electric guitar). A forgettable version of Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" never really takes off, but that's the only really disappointing song on Bluestreak – an album that was long overdue.
For his third album, Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits set up a nightclub in the studio, invited an audience, and cut a 70-minute, two-LP set of new songs. It's an appropriate format for compositions that deal even more graphically and, for the first time, humorously with Waits' late-night world of bars and diners. The love lyrics of his debut album had long since given way to a comic lonely-guy stance glimpsed in "Emotional Weather Report" and "Better Off Without a Wife." But what really matters is the elaborate scene-setting of songs like the six-and-a-half-minute "Spare Parts," the seven-and-a-half-minute "Putnam County," and especially the 11-and-a-half-minute "Nighthawk Postcards" that are essentially poetry recitations with jazz backing. Waits is a colorful tour guide of midnight L.A., raving over a swinging rhythm section of Jim Hughart (bass) and Bill Goodwin (drums), with Pete Christlieb wailing away on tenor sax between paragraphs and Mike Melvoin trading off with Waits on piano runs. You could call it overdone, but then, this kind of material made its impact through an accumulation of miscellaneous detail, and who's to say how much is too much?
Following two albums with a reconstituted L.A. Express, Bluestreak and Smokin' Section, Tom Scott returns to solo frontman duties on his Higher Octave Jazz debut, New Found Freedom, but he does so with a large number of guests. Those guests help broaden the styles of music available on the release, although Scott's own saxophone work remains a touchstone and everything on the disc will be easily programmable on smooth jazz radio. Indeed, the variety gives programmers many choices. Craig Chaquico, a fellow veteran of the 1970s rock scene and now a labelmate, joins Scott with some characteristic acoustic guitar work on the becalmed opener, "Feelin' It," after which adult contemporary singer Ann Nesby croons "You Are My Everything" while Billy Preston joins in on organ.