First & Monroe

The Tracks: Her "Gentle Touch In Moonlight" is a funky romp through a delicate melody. Bob's patience with the melody and his "less-is more" approach equates "more" indeed. A nice vibraphone solo shows up courtesy of Matt Williams as a welcome sonic surprise, lending a warm and fuzzy organic quality to the track. Drummer Todd Chuba's hypnotic groove will keep heads nodding throughout.

On "Easy To Be With", one first notices the unique and extremely infectious Brazilian influenced "Partido Alto" groove laid down by drummer Todd Chuba and percussionist Lenny Castro. Once again Bob shows great patience in both the delivery of the melody and solo which is extremely effective in contrast to jazz veteran Eric Marienthal's angst-funky soprano saxophone solo. The two meet for the closing melody over a grooving Samba and trade through the fade.

"Trace of A Nordic Blonde" immediately hooks the listener with its unison line reminiscent of the great Joe Sample's "Hippies On The Corner". A wonderfully tasty solo by Bob is followed by a Joe Sample-esque piano solo by David Garfield, who flavors the track with late night sophistication. "Padrone" is a funky, hooky, soul-tinged journey that features an extremely lyrical melody, a retro-inspired groove and an Al Green-inspired soul feel. Eric Marienthal brings his alto sax along for the ride as he and Bob plant themselves firmly in the pocket. David Garfield's B3 padding and soloing bring this track further into the land of Soul. T

he aptly titled "Above the Clouds" is an inspired Samba featuring the warm and delicate flugelhorn of New York's Dominic Farinacci. Bob's nylon-string Buscarino guitar makes an appearance as he serves the tune with great musicianship. The song, inspired by traveling at 41,000 feet assigns YOU a First-Class seat. "Yavapai Lulluby" is anything but a lullaby in the traditional sense. Drummer Todd Chuba lays down a Steve Jordan-inspired groove as Bob delivers yet another lyrical melody. This might be one of Bob's most boisterous guitar solos on the album. It certainly inspires David Garfield on keys. An infectious and memorable lullaby for sure.

"Flying Home" is a "Pat Metheny-esque" piece with a well-named title. Bob is once again guilty of selling the melody with patience (as if this melody needs to be sold). Flying Home is a wonderfully textural piece that includes sitar, rolling cymbals and a wonderful maturity. Hit the Repeat button on this baby after a long day.

"L-Ski", penned for Bob's daughter Mariel, is a fun little sonically organic affair. A sweet melody and a fun groove gives the listener a sense of who Mariel might be. Take a listen. Maybe there is an "L-Ski" in your life.

Buckle up as we venture down "1235 Moio Way", Bob's George Benson-influenced track which was penned for noted guitarist Bill Moio. This tune features a "Ramblin'" drum groove and burnin' good-time solo efforts from Bob and David Garfield. Added ear candy is the tasteful and strategically placed strings in the B-section, courtesy of Lamar Gaines. 

"1235 Moio Way" might just take you back to the good 'ole days of Contemporary Jazz...can you say "Breezin'"?

If you've ever had occasion to tour Northern Arizona, you'd understand the overwhelming majesty and peacefulness of "Sycamore Canyon". From note one, Bob's influence is evident, prideful and appropriate. The track speaks for itself and pays great homage to a fantastic piece of Arizona. Recorded live at an undisclosed location,

Bob meets the legendary Joey DeFrancesco at the intersection of "First and Monroe" for this organ trio romp. Bob seems to channel personal heroes Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell as he gives a lesson in subtleties, laying down a tasty, inspired and thoughtful solo. Drummer Todd Chuba "kills" the Philly Joe Jones- inspired shuffle and Joey... Well, he's Joey!

On this outing, Bob Shimizu has shown real bravery by not allowing the influence of the Smooth Jazz broadcast idiom's whimsical rules or, the tradition and "commandments" of the Jazz Police to alter the musical vision. Bob Shimizu has simply recorded a true contemporary jazz record in the most honest sense and, most importantly, he's simply made great music! Salute. - Mike Florio

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