Kim Waters – One Special Moment

One Special MomentOne Special Moment
Kim Waters
by John Barrett

The cover says everything. On a soft cushion Kim Waters is surrounded by light – from candles, glistening off the cushion, everything reflecting a calm spirit. It’s also in the music, but don’t think it’s listless: Kim’s horn is incisive, soprano notes with the tones of an alto. The backing is airy, the tunes gentle … with room to strut. A number of feelings, most of them love, and if you’re in the mood, this disc provides the moment.

The production is a model of taste: if you know smooth jazz you’ve heard these techniques, but rarely used this subtly. The keyboards cloud on “Hudson River”, but it’s felt more than heard, and no schmaltz. Guitar chunks a good rhythm, and Kim, in his lower register, moves with in stylish confidence. Never does he noodle: the solos are brief, and deftly concise. “Secrets” has a little more edge, thanks to a synth that beeps like a computer. The future sails by, while Kim stays put – a gentle drawl, ending in pirouettes! A lovely dance; his partner is Chuck Loeb, who pours on the liquid guitar. It’s a walk by the beach, and the romance is no secret.

And if you feel romantic … R. Kelly’s “Fortunate” is the purest smooch music. The delay echo’s on high, so Kim starts a phrase, the echo carries on, and he answers himself. There’s also an overdubbed sax section, a choir preaching love. The guitarist is named “Wawa”; he shows you why. And Kim shows you his night moves – you’re fortunate to hear it. “Come to Me” is a slice of light funk; Brian Bromberg on the bass, keys like a string section, and Kim at his toughest. The alto sound is back, also a hint of clarinet. The tune is strong on its own, and Kim makes it more muscular. From fighter to lover: notes drip on the title track, a wispy soprano lingering on the dancefloor. The guitar is eager, the sax is willing – you’re in the mood as well.

“Am I the Same” is a jolt – nothing prepared you for this. It’s a vocalized “Soulful Strut” (words by Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites); Kim is a section unto himself. Meli’sa Morgan lilts the innocent vocal; overdubs provide her chorus. Perfect ‘60s R&B – only the drum machine gives it away. “Mr. Smooth” is a two-man band: Wawa’s guitar, and Kim on all else. While the synth hums sad, the reed moves slowly, a voice of consolation. Near the end it gets warm, a sexy slide as Kim whoops it up. And “Love’s Calling” is romance of a different kind – a sweet tune with spirit, a smoothness that won’t put you to sleep. Yes, it IS special – and the moment lasts quite a while.

Rating: *** ¾. Mostly for smooth fans, though others will enjoy it. Try “Hudson River”, “Fortunate”, “Come to Me”, and especially “Am I the Same Girl”. The feeling you get is wondrous.

Songs: Hudson River Nights; Secrets Told; In the Groove; Fortunate; Come to Me; One Special Moment; Am I the Same Girl (Soulful Strut); Mr. Smooth; Up All Night; Love’s Calling.

Musicians: Kim Waters (soprano and alto saxes, keyboards, programming); Andy Snitzer (alto and tenor saxes); Jim Hynes (flugelhorn); Mike Ricchiuti (keyboards); David Mann or Gregg Karukas (keyboards, programming); Chuck Loeb (guitars, keyboards, programming); Robert “WaWa” LeGrand or Paul Livant (guitar); Larry Saltzman (acoustic and electric guitars); Jerry Brooks, James Waters Jr. or Will Lee (bass); Brian Bromberg (piccolo bass, programming); George Whitty (Moog bass); Brian Dunne (cymbals, tom-toms); Ron Holland (drum programming); Meli’sa Morgan (vocal on “Am I the Same Girl”).