Nils – City Groove (2012)

Nils - City Groove (2012)
Artist: Nils
Album: City Groove
Genre: Smooth Jazz
Origin: USA
Released: 2012
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

City Groove (4:40)
Casablanca (3:43)
Sunset Blvd. (4:11)
Let’s Bounce (3:51)
Funk in da House (4:17)
Get on the Dance Floor (4:37)
Red Wine & Sunsets (4:44)
Call Me (4:38)
Have an Attitude (4:10)
Soul 2 Soul (5:26)
Up and Away (4:14)
The Alchemist (3:25)


When, in 2005, I reviewed ‘Pacific Coast Highway’ I described the music of Nils as ‘chill out funk’ and commented that even with the more up tempo numbers his production was able to engender a hypnotic quality that transports the listener, trance like, to another place. Just as important, it seemed he had worked out exactly what it takes to create music that is ‘radio ready’ and from that point, with the projects ‘Ready To Play’, ‘Up Close And Personal’ and most recently ‘What The Funk’ he has simply gone from strength to strength. Now, any release from this top-notch writer, performer and producer is invariably regarded a highlight of any smooth jazz year and this is certainly the case with his shimmering new CD ‘City Groove’.

The album is off to a sparkling start with the zesty title cut which, with wailing horns that come courtesy of trumpeter Johnny Britt, sets the groove-drenched scene for much of what follows. Britt sticks around for the easy paced ‘Casablanca’ that far from being full of eastern promise is nevertheless a superb showcase for Nils’ dexterous guitar licks and another tune with a beautifully compelling vibe is ‘Get On The Dance Floor’ which is enhanced by cool backing vocals from Eddie Brown.

A feature of ‘City Groove’ is the quality of Nil’s supporting musicians and given that they include bass players Reggie McBride, Alex Al and Darryl Jones, drummer Ricky Lawson, Oliver Brown on percussion and regular contributor Clydene Jackson, this is hardly surprising. Completing the line-up on keyboards is Mitch Forman and as Nils slows down the tempo for the sumptuous ‘Sunset Blvd’ its Forman who catches the attention with the way his superb interjections on piano blend to perfection with Nils’ fabulous guitar work. ‘Red Wine And Sunsets’ is also a track where the mellow side of Nils does the talking and although he deploys the delightfully tranquil ‘The Alchemist’ to close out the collection, the tight and ‘in the pocket’ ‘Let’s Bounce’ encourages the listener to do exactly what the title suggests.

The first single to be released to radio, it’s a number replete with Nils’ trademark sound and, talking of the brand of music with which Nils has made his mark, be sure to check out ‘Up And Away’ where, in his own inimitable style, he really tears it up.

Clydene Jackson is variously found throughout on keys and synth pads while for the extremely tender ‘Soul 2 Soul’ she lends her understated vocals to a song that is characterized by the duet between Nils and fellow guitarist Jeff Golub. It proves to be a special moment in an album never short of them and of equal merit is ‘Funk In Da House’ where an easy grooving disposition is tempered by a good measure of attitude.

In terms of personal favorites the mid tempo lilt of ‘Call Me’ is right up there with the best that ‘City Groove’ has to offer yet along side it is the fantastic ‘Have An Attitude’.

With music like this Nils position in the higher echelons of smooth jazz seems completely assured.

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