Night On The Town
(Higher Octave – 2004)
by S.H. Watkins, Sr.
Eric Darius is a 21 year old student at the University of South Florida who plays his saxophone like a veteran. Reminiscent of Mike Phillips, Darius has a sound that is fresh, funky and soulful. Seven of the nine songs here were written or co-written by Darius and the sound is vibrant and lush, smooth jazz from a younger point of view.
Backed by Ken Navarro‘s band – Gary Grainger (bass), Jay Rowe (keyboards), Kevin Prince (percussion),
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Andre “Blues” Webb (drums), and Robert “WahWah” LeGrand (guitars) Eric Darius puts it down solid and smooth from the rollicking opener Joy Ride to the ballad closer You’re So Fine. In The Pocket is my favorite original, full of harmonies and inspired melody. Darius’ shows a lot of chops throughout this CD, and really kicks on the covers of Let’s Stay Together and Luther Vandross’ Love TKO which is so hot your CD player may melt.
This young cat has a future as one of the young lions in the smooth jazz industry, a field overloaded with saxmen wanting a second in the limelight. With his writing talent and sax instincts Eric Darius should be able to keep swimming at the top of the pool for a while to come.