Lucio Hopper – Reflections
(Ralston Hill – 2000)
by Sidney Bechet-Mandela
It’s almost sinful how some of the best smooth jazz never makes it to the airwaves. It’s as if the acts in regular rotation are coasting with their new music, while those bubbling under the charts are striving to make the cut with exciting music that pushes the rather shallow smooth jazz envelope. The problem is that programmers are underestimating their audiences, thinking that listeners don’t want anything to jolt them into paying attention to the musical wallpaper they’re being force-fed. The result is that great, musically savvy albums, like this one, that fit firmly into the smooth jazz window are allowed through the cracks.
Hopper, a bassist with impressive credential, has delivered a quite listen-able nine track offering that sparkles with a smooth sheen that is delightful. If there is one tune that could make the airwaves, it’s the only cover on the album, a hip version of Bill Withers’ “A Lovely Day,” that brings to mind smooth jazz regulars Joe McBride and Kevin Toney. Hopper wrote all the other tunes and proves that he has thoroughly absorbed the essence of the smooth jazz movement. “Reflections” is also a wonderfully recorded album that does not suffer from over production. Quite the contrary, this could be the sleeper smooth jazz album of the year.