Brian Hughes – Along The Way

Brian HughesBrian Hughes
Along The Way
(Blue Note – 2004)
by John Thompson

Wanna see something sort of rare? Here it is: this writer reviewing the smooth jazz style. Guitarist Brian Hughes has released a very nice cd for true 1990’s-2000 era smooth jazz lovers called “Along the Way.” While I do not totally subscribe towards this style, I will say that this is very good smooth jazz that most songs could make radio play lists. All songs are written and arranged by the George Benson-Norman Brown-sounding Hughes, and I am appreciative of the use of “real” vs. synthesized instruments. This music is good. Very good.

Two popular guests that appear on the disc are Chris Botti (T) and Eric Marienthal (AS), as well as Hb3 player John Nau. Les Portelli (P,synths), Tim Landers (B), Neil Wilkinson (D) and Jason Hann (Perc.) round out the band. Songs in varying flavors, pronounced percussion, well-placed fills and hooks, and the song order are some of the elements that make the music very enjoyable. Hughes makes good on acoustic guitar on two songs, “Omaha Unbound,” and “Endless Road.” While there are no fireworks, the Hughes solos are very fitting, and though no stretching out from band members, the structures are always solid. 4-1/2 smooth stars.