After Hours is Greg Chambers' 3rd release. Embracing sultry and funky R&B, pop, and jazz grooves, After Hours combines Chambers' signature catchy songwriting and passionate delivery with the stellar mixing skills of Darren Rahn and Paul Brown. Grounded in collaboration and the exchange of ideas, this release features shimmering performances by Paul Brown, Jonathan Fritzén, and a bevy of top-notch studio musicians while revealing a mature, soulful, and hot new saxophonist on the scene!
Although listed as a seven track EP, there is a distinct and complete album and working band feel to After Hours. Combine Chambers prolific talents on saxophone along with Paul Brown on guitar, Jonathan Fritzen on piano and synthesizers and some mad mixing skills from Darren Rahn and you wind up with one of the most righteous contemporary instrumental releases from an Independent artist one could find which begs the question - Who will be the major label smart enough to sign this guy?
There are some pet peeves when it comes to taking a walk on the smoother side of jazz which are probably inherently unfair and perhaps take hypercritical to a new level. Sound quality is an issue for some people including myself as some releases sound as they have been sanitized for your protection. Not here, an open and slightly ambient quality plays off the warmth and lyrical sense of purpose that Chambers brings to the table. Programming is another issue but could perhaps be lumped into the overall issue of sound quality. Some producers ride the compression as tight as they can get it and programming turns into a sonic crutch instead of adding a layer of texture to the melodic intention of the piece at hand. Vocals...The number one complaint would be lame vocals on what the listener is expecting or at least would prefer to be an all instrumental release. Simply put, people want to hear Greg Chambers play and not necessarily Chelsea Chambers or Kevin Lewis sing and here they would be dead wrong. The vocals complete the off the charts vibe with an ebb and flow as tight as anyone is laying down today. I must confess as a saxophone player I found myself hitting repeat several times.
Opening with In The Pocket featuring a classic Paul Brown guitar solo the table begins to be set and it is full of flavor and just the right amount of texture to keep things interesting. Chambers is as good as any of the players coming out of what often seems to be the assembly line of smooth jazz players yet he has developed a unique artistic voice and command of his horn some more established players are still looking for. Chambers and trumpet player Louis Fasman crush their own version of the classic Dizzy Gillespie tune Groovin' High. Paul Brown is once again featured on Chelsea's Song, along with Chelsea Chambers on vocals. Chambers has some dynamite chops and a pristine voice for the classic chill vibe without the pretentious overkill some artists are known for. Human Nature, aside from being perhaps the only Michael Jackson song I am not totally burned on at this point is reharmed into a soulful groove that the King of Pop would be proud of. Kevin Lewis has some mad vocal skills and bring an R&B crossover appeal to the iconic Jackson song.
Greg Chambers slays the release. This is one of those smooth jazz releases that doesn't try too hard, the music does all the work. It would be easy to overlook this release given the new releases coming out from other talent right now but that would be a crime against music. I rarely do this for a smooth jazz release but Greg Chambers deserves his props. --Brent Black @ CriticalJazz
With the 2007 CD, City Lights, and his 2011 self-titled follow-up, sax-man Greg Chambers has been carving out his own niche in the annals of contemporary jazz. Of course Chambers is far from being your regulation smooth jazz musician. With a resume that includes a parallel project with his own jazz quartet plus work with the Aspen Festival Orchestra he remains well equipped to ring the changes. However, his latest release, the seven-track EP After Hours (that will hit the streets on March 26) puts him unequivocally back into smooth jazz territory. Not only that, with stellar input from Jonathan Fritzen, Paul Brown, Darren Rahn, Roberto Vally and Ross Bolton, After Hours proves to be something of a musical tour de force.
Take for example Chambers own composition In The Pocket that features both Brown on guitar plus Brown s old sparring partner Roberto Vally on bass. It is very much smooth jazz on the mellow side and when Brown stays around to mix the jazz classic Groovin High it affords Chambers the opportunity to indulge his penchant for a straight ahead groove. Elsewhere Darren Rahn's work at the mixing desk makes the most of Greg's edgy interpretation of the Michael Jackson blockbuster Human Nature and he does much the same with one of Chambers own tunes, the romantically inclined Your Place Or Mine?, that is right up there with the best that After Hours has to offer.
Later Brown returns on guitar for another of my personal favorites, the seductively smoky Chelsea's Song, and although the splendid On The Move glides along with a tasty streetwise swagger, it s the wonderfully easy grooving title cut that steals the show. With Fritzen on keys at his hugely immaculate best this one is a gem. --Denis Poole, Smooth Jazz Therapy