Richard Elliot - In The Zone

Richard Elliot
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Born in Scotland, but raised in CA and a fan of classically-composed soul, saxophonist Richard Elliot has built up a quarter-century’s worth of experience alongside some of music’s biggest and brightest performers, including Motown alumni (The Temptations, The Four Tops), the Yellowjackets and even with the Tower of Power as an official member of their horn section for nearly a decade. Stylistic influences from the likes of David Sanborn and Grover Washington Jr. may have shaped his sound through the formative years, but this full-bodied follow-up to his high-charting 2009 CD, Rock Steady, offers more of what his fans have come to expect: sultry, sophisticated sax playing anchored by a firm foundation of rhythm and blues.

Born in Scotland, but raised in CA and a fan of classically-composed soul, saxophonist Richard Elliot has built up a quarter-century’s worth of experience alongside some of music’s biggest and brightest performers, including Motown alumni (The Temptations, The Four Tops), the Yellowjackets and even with the Tower of Power as an official member of their horn section for nearly a decade. Stylistic influences from the likes of David Sanborn and Grover Washington Jr. may have shaped his sound through the formative years, but this full-bodied follow-up to his high-charting 2009 CD, Rock Steady, offers more of what his fans have come to expect: sultry, sophisticated sax playing anchored by a firm foundation of rhythm and blues.

On his new release, In the Zone, Mr. Elliot is, as usual, a prolific performer, co-composing nine of the ten tracks and sharing the board work with another down-by-law veteran, Jeff Lorber, who co-produces while contributing on the ax and the keys. “Metropolis” is a swaying, yet slinky groove in comparison to “Boom Town,” the CD’s taut and wiry first single, and the funk-infused “Bring It!” is more brash than “The Lower Road,” but just as smooth a listen. It takes a confident musician to come within 100 yards of the Marvin Gaye catalog, and on “Inner City Blues” (Makes Me Wanna Holler”) Mr. Elliot masterfully proves his mettle, opting to expand on Mr. Washington’s long-ago cover and adding his own luxurious touches to the final product. His fellow players deserve at least some of the credit for the stellar results: Jill Scott’s former fiancé, Lil John Roberts, applies deft drumming to the celestial closer, “Golden Triangle,” and the expertise of Mr. Lorber and guitarist Dwight Sills on “Boomtown” lend to its irresistible edge and energy.

Notable tracks: “The Lower Road,” “Inner City Blues,” “Boomtown”

Vocals: n/a
Lyrics: n/a
Music: 5.0
Production: 4.5
SoulTracks call: Highly Recommended

By Melody Charles

 
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