Greg Chambers

 

Sometimes, it’s nice to sit and chill on an uneventful, carefree afternoon. What better way to chill, than listening to the refreshing, urban sounds of smooth jazz? The answer should be obvious that ‘there is no better way,’ but if those words aren’t the first thing to slip off your tongue, let saxophonist Greg Chambers change your tune. Chambers’ new album, Can’t Help Myself, is nothing short of sensational, soothing, and pleasing. 11 tracks deep, Mr. Chambers does not miss a beat… or a note for that matter! 

“Can’t Help Myself” opens the album sophisticatedly and energetically. Melodically – as is the case with many smooth-jazz songs – it’s tuneful, and catchy. When Chambers drifts from the melody, his sax ad-libs are somewhat subtle yet meaningfully so. “Can’t Help Myself” definitely establishes the tone.

On follow-up “In the Moment,” Chambers gets an assist from bassist Julian Vaughn. The combination of sax and bass on melody is stunning to say the least; the ‘color’ created really pops. Though melodic bass isn’t new, it never ceases to amaze. Two tracks in and Chambers is cooking – grease baby, grease!

“So Into You” opens with a lush, somewhat mysterious soundscape that breaks into another groove-driven joint. Chamber’s alto tone is silky smooth, with his upper register cutting through particularly well. On “Off the Cuff,” Chambers once more brings on guests via Nils (guitars) and Nate Harasim (keyboards and drum programming). Nils gets a brief, but worthwhile solo turn while Harsim’s array of keyboard accompaniment helps shape the track itself – particularly the organ. “Off the Cut” proves as pleasant as everything preceding it. Chambers keeps it ‘saxy’ you might say.

“All My Life” is expectedly a crowning achievement for Chambers; anything less would’ve been a disappointment. Covering any massively popular hit it isn’t easy, particularly a K-Ci & JoJo original. While nothing could ever supplant the original, Chamber’s expressive alto, not to mention Jalen Seawright’s spot-on vocals easily do justice to this classic. “All My Life” ranks among the favorites.

“Saturday Afternoon” tweaks the script a bit. Actually, not the script itself, but the instrumentation, as Chambers shows off some soprano sax chops. Matt Godina is featured on guitar on this one, after having previously appeared on two previous tracks. Has “Saturday Afternoon” ever felt better? Then, ladies and gentlemen, “It’s On.” Literally, that’s the name of the song. ‘Course, anytime Paul Brown joins the crew doing that guitar thing he does so well, well, it really is on. Throw in a more urban, chill groove and “It’s On” is top-rate by all means.

Things remain sort of lazy and relaxed on “Come A Little Closer,” which certainly accomplishes the ‘inviting’ vibe through its sound that the title suggests. On “Lovely,” Chambers once again ventures into the covers territory, this time courtesy of Boyz II Men a la Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya (2000). Assisted by Kevin Lewis on vocals, Lewis maintains more of a background role, never usurping Chambers or assuming a lead vocal role on this particular song. This ‘complementary’ role executed by Lewis is selfless and alluring. But so is “Lovely,” which is indeed “Lovely.”

Penultimate cut “Wait Awhile” continues with a sensual, romantic sentiment, evidenced from the jump. After an intro sets the tone, Chambers sneaks in with that seductive alto – ooh la la! Can’t Help Myself ends with the brief, but chivalrous “Dreaming of You,” where Chambers beautifully paints a radiant portrait of love.

Ultimately, Can’t Help Myself is a fine, enjoyable smooth jazz affair from Greg Chambers. Consistent from start to finish, Chambers has assembled something truly special. And it just can’t be said enough – the man can play! Can’t Help Myself exhibits nothing short of elite musicianship.

Favorites: “Can’t Help Myself,” “In the Moment,” “All My Life,” and “It’s On”

Zijn nieuwste project werd geproduceerd door keyboardspeler Nate Harasim en Matt Godina, en bevat 11 tracks. Onmiddellijk neemt de titeltrack je mee op een “catchy feel good” trip, waarop Harasim keyboards, synthesizers, bas & drumprogrammering voor zijn rekening neemt. Op het up-tempo nummer ‘In the Moment’ kan je bassist Julian Vaughn horen, terwijl de smooth jazz van ‘So Into You’ relaxed overkomt. Gitarist Nils en Nate Harasim op piano, orgel & keyboards spelen mee op ‘Off the Cuff’, waarna Greg de K-Ci en Jo Jo hit ‘All My Life’ covert. Jalen Seawright zingt het refrein van deze soulvolle ballade. ‘Saturday Afternoon’ is een ontspannen track, met Matt Godina op akoestische gitaar. Gitarist en producer Paul Brown komt meespelen op het romantische en sexy ‘It’s On’, gevolgd door het al even sensuele ‘Come a Little Closer’. Kevin Lewis zingt daarna de romantische ballade ‘Lovely’, een cover van Boyz II Men, terwijl ‘Wait Awhile’ rustige smooth jazz brengt. Afsluiten doet hij met het intieme ‘Dreaming of You’, zonder drums of percussie. Greg Chambers is een top klasse muzikant, en ik ben blij dat ik hem ontdekt heb. Frisse, catchy en soulvolle sax!

Sax man Greg Chambers is a newish kid on the smooth jazz block but the music on this – his third full album- bears all the hallmarks of a veteran of the scene. The 11 tracker is stuffed with catchy, polished, soul based grooves and the Master Of Music from UCLA kicks off the album with a strong quartet of foot tappers – 'Can't Help Myself', 'In The Moment', 'So Into You' and 'Off The Cuff'.

The long player also boasts a set of decent ballad moments like the lush 'Come A Little Closer', the unashamedly romantic 'Dreaming Of You' and 'It's On' which features long-time collaborator, Paul Brown on distinctive guitar. Good too to see that Greg realizes that smooth jazz fans are partial to the odd vocal - they add colour and variety to what can sometimes be a limiting genre. Here Greg includes two vocal cuts and both 'All My Life' and 'Lovely' would sit nicely on any Quiet Storm radio feature. Vocalist on the former, by the way is Jalen Seawright, while on the latter Kevin Lewis takes to the mic.

The track I keep coming back to though is a lovely mid-tempo groove called 'Wait Awhile'. It's the set's most soul-based tune and reminded me of the great David Sanborn in its focus on that magic groove. Listen up too to 'Saturday Afternoon' – a pleasing, understated item, with a simple melody that could well be a paean to the fading summer.

Like everything on the album it's played with precision and polish and delivered in the way smooth jazz fans have come to expect. Expect 'Can't Help Myself' to follow Greg's two previous albums into the Smooth Jazz Top 50.

No doubt about it, saxophonist Greg Chambers is a perfectionist. He sets very high standards for his work. Proof of this is listening to his latest record “Can’t Help Myself!” Greg’s last two albums hit big on the music charts, and I predict that his latest album will also win the high approval of critics and fans alike. An accomplished classical saxophonist and instructor, Chambers has proven that he can also write, groove, and lay down some very appealing tracks as a contemporary Jazz artist. He is truly a resourceful and multitalented musician/arranger.

When you have eminent people as part of your team, you kind of feel that you are in for something really good. Start off with Nate Harasim and Matt Godina as your producers, and add to that the esteemed guest talents of bassist Julian Vaughn, guitarist Paul Brown, Nils and Nate Harasim on guitar and keys respectively. So, it just figures that “Can’t Help Myself” will offer a treasure of music!

The title track, “Can’t Help Myself” is an instantly catchy opening penned by Chambers and Harasim. Julian Vaughn’s impactful bass on “In the Moment” adds a fresh creative treat. “So Into You” and “Off the Cuff” both show how musically generous Chambers is as a leader; he allows his musicians to add their own identity…their own spice… this makes for a rewarding experience for everyone.

Borrowing a word from K-Ci and Jo Jo’s hit “All My Life,” it would be hard to find a cover version of their song that’s “sweeter” than Chambers’ version here! Jalen Seawright has the right approach vocally, and of course Greg and Nate are their usual tasteful selves.

Paul Brown’s always impressive guitar sets up and supports a horn fortified Chambers/Godina tune-- “It’s On.”

Greg Chambers’ very likeable, warm, free-flowing sax style, along with a great supporting cast of producers, arrangers, musicians, and vocalists make this new project “Can’t Help Myself” quite rewarding for him…and for his listeners.

Smooth Jazz Therapy has been following the fortunes of sax-man Greg Chambers since 2007 and the release of his debut recording ‘City Lights’.  At the time I described it as  “an album different enough to get him noticed” and then delighted in watching his musical progression as, first with his 2011 self-titled follow up and again with the seven-track 2013 EP ‘After Hours’, he proceeded to carve out his own musical identity.  Now this progression continues with the sparkling ‘Can’t Help Myself’.  Not only is it his most commercial to date but is also a wonderful showcase for his combined talents as songwriter, producer and performer.  No doubt about it, ‘Can’t Help Myself’ is the real smooth jazz deal and, with input from the likes of Paul Brown, Nate Harasim, Nils and Julian Vaughn, is a timely reminder of how good contemporary jazz can be when done this well.

Talking of doing things well, the CD opens with the fabulously zesty title cut that benefits from input from co-writer Harasim on keys.  He stays around to lend a hand with the mid-tempo ‘Off The Cuff’ that includes a nice interjection of guitar from Nils and is another of three songs he co-writes with Chambers. 

In fact Chambers writes or co-writes nine of the eleven choice tunes, five of them with guitarist and keyboard player Matt Godina.  On this showing Chambers and Godina are establishing themselves as one of the genre’s most formidable song writing partnerships and a case in point is the languid ‘It’s On’ for which Paul Brown guests on guitar.  Just as good is the infectiously up-tempo ‘In The Moment’ (featuring bass guitar from rising star Julian Vaughn) while another Chambers - Godina number is the immensely feel-good ‘So Into You’ that is arguably amongst the best that ‘Can’t Help Myself’ has to offer. 

That said, they prove themselves to be equally adept when easing things down and they do just that, first with the super sultry ‘Come A Little Closer’ and again for the similarly disposed ‘Wait Awhile’ that just tips the scales as Smooth Jazz Therapy top track. 

Elsewhere Godina takes the lead on guitar for the relaxed groove of ‘Saturday Afternoon’ and although Chambers closes out the collection with the romantically inclined ‘Dreaming Of You’ he slips effortlessly into urban jazz territory for a sensational take on the Boyz II Men smash ‘Lovely’ where vocals from Kevin Lewis really hit the spot and bass from the always excellent Roberto Vally provides the perfect anchor.  The album’s other cover is ‘All My Life’ that was a hit for R & B duo K-Ci & JoJo but which here is given a lighter, more angelic touch courtesy of vocals of Jalen Seawright. 

It is a brilliant example of the light and shade that Chambers has crammed into ‘Can’t Help Myself’ and another reason, among many, why you should make it part of your collection.

Saxophonist Greg Chambers has been enjoying what must be a most satisfying high for him as he splits his time between making solid-grooved contemporary jazz music as a solo artist and serving as a private woodwind instructor in the San Francisco Bay area.  Having worked with symphonies and orchestras as a classical saxophonist, Chambers seems to keep quite busy. His dedication to the smooth jazz genre is commendable in light of all of his other activities. As evidence of that commitment, he now steps out again with another pleasing project called Can’t Help Myself.

Remaining true to a cool, fluid style that plays well in the smooth jazz community, the album contains an abundance of tasteful grooves including but not limited to the up-tempo lead and title track, an equally movin’ and shakin’ track two entitled  “In The Moment” (an apropos title as I’m sure that is exactly where he was as he co-penned this one with multi-instrumentalist Matt Godina), the smooth and steady dancer “So Into You,” a laid-back and sexy “It’s On,” an effective and soulful cover of K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life,” and a cozy soprano sax presence found on the mid-tempo “Saturday Afternoon.”

The saxman is joined here by some well-known and admired artists in the biz, namely guitarist/producer Paul Brown (who will be releasing his own impressive project shortly), the personable and talented keyboardist/producer Nate Harasim, funky guitarist Nils, and the always-“on” bassist Julian Vaughn.

In addition to the beckon of Chambers’ sax, I must say that the backing keys/piano, guitar, and strings work on several of the slower, romantic tracks (e.g., “Come a Little Closer,” “Lovely,” and the riveting finale – sans drums or percussions – “Dreaming of You”) are simply more than worthy of a listen. Add to that the wonderful vocals found on the previously mentioned “Lovely” and provided by Kevin Lewis, and you’ve got a project that carries a lot of the confident stride of a well-produced effort.

In a nutshell, Chambers, having established that he has a firm handle on the nuances, flavors, and soul of this music, has again accomplished his goal to satisfy. – Ronald Jackson

Greg Chambers is no longer a newbie, he is a rising star!

Contemporary instrumental music (formerly known as smooth jazz) has taken a beating over the last five years. A tightly clustered pack of musicians whose differences are measured by the thickness of a sheet of paper are now being forced to dig just a tad deeper in their harmonic arsenal thanks to stellar talent such as Greg Chambers. An independent artist with some dynamite guest shots from Nate Harasim, Paul Brown and Matt Godina makes a bold statement that sometimes just being yourself is the best artistic statement one could make.
 
Nate Harasim handles the mixing duties while Paul Brown is featured on "It's On." While vocals on most releases that walk the smoother side of the jazz street are basically R & B cast offs looking for crossover gold, "All My Life" and "Lovely" are solid. Respectively, Jalen Seawright and Kevin Lewis are talent to keep an eye on with both tunes having more than ample opportunity to cross over on a variety of platform play lists. Bassist Julian Vaughn and six string ace Matt Godina add depth and flavor to a release that is a showcase for the exponential growth of Greg Chambers.
 
Far more than pretty melodies, Greg Chambers is a lyrically driven artist that is now separating himself from the pack. A dynamic tone and the ability to compose a tune that has this artist opening for some major league talent, Greg Chambers is the new hot ticket for contemporary instrumental music! There are major label artists not making music this well!

Sax player Greg Chambers returns with Can't Help Myself (2014). Guest musicians on this album are Julian Vaughn, Nils, Nate Harasim, Paul Brown, Kevin Lewis and Matt Godina. Quality is guaranteed.

The title song is a collaboration with producer Nate Harasim, who also delivers keyboards, bass, synth and drum programming. Greg takes the lead on alto sax, while Nate adds the groovy things. A hooking song from the start.

In The Moment features Julian Vaughn on bass playing with Greg in a double. The attractive melody is filled with funky stuff by Matt Godina. So Into You shows not only Greg as intuitive performer but also as great composer and arranger.

Off The Cuff presents keyboardist Nate Harasim and guitarist Nils with lively contributions while Greg demonstrates the many sides of his expression between gentle and energetic.  American R&B duo K-Ci & JoJo recorded their hit All My Life in 1997. Greg and singer Jalen Seawright showcase an adequate rendition with marvelous emotional power.

With Saturday Afternoon the lightness of being returns. A piece of merriment. The participation of guitarist Paul Brown on It's On remains cautiously in the background. More in the foreground next to Greg's sax is Andrew Schultz on trombone. Greg's passion for gentle ballads could be detected on Come A Little Closer and Lovely.

More flow he allows the following piece Wait Awhile, on which he proves himself as excellent multi-instrumentalist. With Dreaming Of You he sets an emotional final accent,  that will be remembered.

Naturally Greg Chambers want to be different from all other saxophonists. On Can't Help Myself he comes across as great charmer credible because of his empathy and authenticity.

Sometimes you can really sense when an artist is bound for the mainstream spotlight of this genre. Saxophonist Greg Chambers, no stranger in the music industry (having worked as a freelance musician and private woodwind instructor), in my opinion, is one of those artists. His latest release, After Hours (due on the streets on March 26), is only 7 tracks long, and each and every track is a bonafide, competent, on-the-money groove. It comes on the heels of his self-titled CD, which charted on the Jazzweek Top 50 Smooth Singles Chart and made the Most Added/Increased Airplay lists for Billboard Magazine, Smoothjazz.com, and RadioWave.

This most appealing project and Chambers’ talent and ability to deliver it effectively has forced me to go out on a pretty sturdy limb here with a prediction. In short order, this talented, smooth artist with a true grip on the contemporary jazz groove, will be a firm fixture in this genre and one able to pack venues with excited and enthusiastic jazzers everywhere he plays.

To place an exclamation point on my prediction, luminaries like Paul Brown, Darren Rahn, and Jonathan Fritzen have lent their talents to the making of this CD in one way or another. I hardly think that artists with reputations to protect would get behind an artist who’s lacking the sheen and potential to produce musical dividends. With one listen, you will hear why Chambers caught the ears and enthusiasm of these artists.

The material on this album is solid, well-arranged, and packed with infectious melodies and irresistible charm. Deciding to venture out with only seven tracks indicates the saxman’s confidence in the content and quality, not the quantity, of the tracks. What he’s managed to do is create a project that will keep you listening from track one’s “In the Pocket,” featuring guitarist/producer Paul Brown until the last note of the final track, a cool offering of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”

There’s an interesting swinging piece that he tosses in at track 5, “Groovin’ High,” that demonstrates his mastery of jazz outside of the so-called “smooth jazz” circles. The runs and tempo on this one are as riveting as any of the other pieces on this album.

Also among this collection of serious grooves is the sweet & slow, almost melancholy, track called “Chelsea’s Song,” again featuring Paul Brown. Heavenly. If you’re looking for strong, solid contemporary jazz that’s played with authority and from someplace deep in the soul, Chambers’ After Hours will be waiting for you with open arms on March 26. I don’t think you’d want to stand it up.

Saxophonist Greg Chambers develops his creative work in the San Francisco Bay area. With a strong will to reach the peak he released his debut album City Lights in 2006, his self-titled album followed in 2011. Both albums are available at CDBaby.

This year he offers an EP with seven songs, partly written by Greg himself. Beside his band Shahien Shahkar (bass), Paul Neal (guitar), Glenn Osur (keyboards) and Kevin Lewis (drums). He invited to this project Paul Brown on guitar, Jonathan Fritzen on piano, Ross Bolton, Louis Fasman, and saxophonist/producer Darren Rahn. When a musician invested so much in his project, he wants to know which side one’s bread is buttered on.

The starting song In The Pocket presents Paul Brown at his best on his electric guitar. Greg accompanies the guitar with great enthusiasm on the saxophone. Swedish pianist Jonathan Fritzen has in the last two years made great strides in his awareness. A clever move to elect him as a sideman for the title song.

With Ryan Tapley’s distorted guitar the piece On The Move gets a wonderful depth. The slow burner Your Place or Mine? shows Greg’s elegance in different nuances. Groovin’ High is a different matter. In the beginning, with strong jazz impact the character changes over the course. Louis Fasnacht on muted trumpet and flugelhorn leaves a lasting impression.

On Chelsea’s Song Greg and Paul Brown vie to be the most romantic instrumental language. Human Nature was produced by Quincey Jones for Michael’s mega-seller album Thriller (1982). Written by John Bettis and composed by Steve Porcaro of Toto, this song inspired a legion of musicians. Greg also manages a brilliant interpretation.

Greg Chambers’ After Hours is a great album, which appetites for more.

With the 2007 CD ‘City Lights’, and his 2011 self-titled follow-up, sax-man Greg Chambers has been carving out his own niche in the annals of contemporary jazz. Of course Chambers is far from being your regulation smooth jazz musician. With a resume that includes a parallel project with his own jazz quartet plus work with the Aspen Festival Orchestra he remains well equipped to ring the changes. However, his latest release, the seven-track EP ‘After Hours’ (that will hit the streets on March 26) puts him unequivocally back into smooth jazz territory. Not only that, with stellar input from Jonathan Fritzen, Paul Brown Darren Rahn, Roberto Vally and Ross Bolton, ‘After Hours’ proves to be something of a musical tour de force.

Take for example Chambers’ own composition ‘In The Pocket’ that features both Brown on guitar plus Brown’s old sparring partner Roberto Vally on bass. It is very much smooth jazz on the mellow side and when Brown stays around to mix the jazz classic ‘Groovin’ High’ it affords Chambers the opportunity to indulge his penchant for a straight ahead groove. Elsewhere Darren Rahn’s work at the mixing desk makes the most of Greg’s edgy interpretation of the Michael Jackson blockbuster ‘Human Nature’ and he does much the same with one of Chambers’ own tunes, the romantically inclined ‘Your Place Or Mine’, that is right up there with the best that ‘After Hours’ has to offer.

Later Brown returns on guitar for another of my personal favorites, the seductively smoky ‘Chelsea’s Song’, and although the splendid ‘On The Move’ glides along with a tasty streetwise swagger, it’s the wonderfully easy grooving title cut that steals the show. With Fritzen on keys at his hugely immaculate best this one is a gem.

Those that roll with me in my cultural inner circle, my musical mafia as it were know when it comes to smooth jazz then I normally take a cordial pass. I have gone so far as to limit my reviews of this radio format/sub genre by trying to focus on the more Independent artist with some more to offer. Let me tell you my friends that all that aside - Greg Chambers is the real deal!

Although listed as a seven track EP, there is a distinct and complete album and working band feel to After Hours. Combine Chambers prolific talents on saxophone along with Paul Brown on guitar, Jonathan Fritzen on piano and synthesizers and some mad mixing skills from Darren Rahn and you wind up with one of the most righteous contemporary instrumental releases from an Independent artist one could find which begs the question - Who will be the major label smart enough to sign this guy?

There are some pet peeves when it comes to taking a walk on the smoother side of jazz which are probably inherently unfair and perhaps take hypercritical to a new level. Sound quality is an issue for some people including myself as some releases sound as they have been sanitized for your protection. Not here, an open and slightly ambient quality plays off the warmth and lyrical sense of purpose that Chambers brings to the table. Programming is another issue but could perhaps be lumped into the overall issue of sound quality. Some producers ride the compression as tight as they can get it and programming turns into a sonic crutch instead of adding a layer of texture to the melodic intention of the piece at hand. Vocals...The number one complaint would be lame vocals on what the listener is expecting or at least would prefer to be an all instrumental release. Simply put, people want to hear Greg Chambers play and not necessarily Chelsea Chambers or Kevin Lewis sing and here they would be dead wrong. The vocals complete the off the charts vibe with an ebb and flow as tight as anyone is laying down today. I must confess as a saxophone player I found myself hitting repeat several times.

Opening with "In The Pocket" featuring a classic Paul Brown guitar solo the table begins to be set and it is full of flavor and just the right amount of texture to keep things interesting. Chambers is as good as any of the players coming out of what often seems to be the assembly line of smooth jazz players yet he has developed a unique artistic voice and command of his horn some more established players are still looking for. Chambers and trumpet player Louis Fasman crush their own version of the classic Dizzy Gillespie tune "Groovin' High." Paul Brown is once again featured on "Chelsea's Song" along with Chelsea Chambers on vocals. Chambers has some dynamite chops and a pristine voice for the classic chill vibe without the pretentious overkill some artists are known for. "Human Nature" aside from being perhaps the only Michael Jackson song I am not totally burned on at this point is reharmed into a soulful groove that the King of Pop would be proud of. Kevin Lewis has some mad vocal skills and bring an R&B crossover appeal to the iconic Jackson song.

Greg Chambers slays the release. This is one of those smooth jazz releases that doesn't try too hard, the music does all the work. It would be easy to overlook this release given the new releases coming out from other talent right now but that would be a crime against music. I rarely do this for a smooth jazz release but Greg Chambers deserves his props.

Back in 2007 I described ‘City Lights’ by sax-man Greg Chambers as an album different enough to get him noticed. It was a rarified blend of the classical with the contemporary and now he is back with another innovative (and this time self titled) offering. In fact Chambers is far from being your regulation smooth jazz musician. With a resume that includes a parallel project with his own jazz quartet and work with the Aspen Festival Orchestra he is well placed to push the musical envelope. Indeed, with six of his own compositions, plus covers of Richard Elliot’s ‘Sweet Dream’ and the Keane hit ‘Try Again’, this is exactly what he has done.

His sensitive handling of the stunningly beautiful ‘Try Again’ is really quite special while ‘Ocean View’ (which incidentally is the first single to be serviced to radio) makes an early nod to classical undertones before luxuriating in a rock steady beat that still affords Chambers adequate room to experiment. Elsewhere the paradox that is Greg Chambers is further compounded the compelling techno vibe of the feisty ‘Sapphire’ which sits in magical contrast to Elliot’s ‘Sweet Dream’ that Chambers uses to tenderly tug at the heartstrings.

‘Interlude’ builds a mellow yet totally absorbing bridge to ‘Street Noise’ which for a player who does not routinely do funk comes pretty close. However, in doing so, the tune never looses the essence what Chambers playing is really all about and, although ‘Here With You’ proves to be a mellifluous charmer, he closes out this fine collection with ‘Studio 8’ where a thumping bass line and engagingly quirky production will live long in the memory.