So often in this genre, you run accross a musician who has been working all his life at his craft with a single intention, to share his gift with others. They woodshed for hours, they work the dives and often times work full-time jobs to make ends meet and still get out and play three or four times a week to spread their music. Sometimes they will take the initiative, more often today, to produce a recording of their work. They will spend the time, the money, the energy and the soul collateral to create a device to spread their music further.
North "2unes" Woodall is one of those artists and "Straight@You" is his second effort to spread his gift. North, who goes by "2unes" to his friends and fans, has been plying his trade for a long time. A fixture in the Atlanta blues, jazz, funk and R&B scenes, he has built a local reputation as being a solid guitarist who can represent the above genres with skill and enthusiasm. Where "2unes" shines is when he slips into the warm place where jazz meets funk and R&B and where you feel good when you hear it. Primarily an R&B and Funk artist, "2unes" has honed his craft and has been able to introduce the jazz element into these songs in such a way that you feel the original nature of his arrangements, even on old familiar songs like "Let's Groove," an Earth, Wind and Fire classic.
The CD features ten songs, four written by Woodall, one by his drummer/bass player Randy Hoexter. Other songs are covers of popular tunes from the R&B genre. Where tunes accels is in the jazz interpretations of these songs and his ability to turn them into feel good music. Because when you hear "2unes," whether on this CD or live, you just feel good. The cover cuts are passable. My favorite is "Rain Forest" as "2unes" takes this track and does something different. Synthing the vocal and driving the song with a good groove.
Where "2unes" shines is on his original compositions and that of Hoexter. They are well executed smooth jazz songs. The quality of which is in that they don't sound like all the other smooth jazz songs you hear on the radio. Woodall has taken the effort to infuse them with either underlying funk grooves or to mix it up a bit with the phrasing. Never belying the genre of smooth jazz, but taking it out to the edges with R&B and Funk elements. His guitar playing is the glue that holds these songs together. He also makes a good use of vocals as an instrument of the melody.
Overall, North "2unes" Woodall gets points for making this CD. It is a showcase of his unique talents and his ability to fuse the genres under the smooth jazz heading. Again I will reiterate, it is a feel good CD, you listen and you want to listen to more. The familiar songs are familiar and the originals feel like they should be. That being said, I would hope that Woodall's next effort feature more of his jazz playing. Whether on a Strat or a hollow-body, Woodall brings out the funk in the smooth jazz. That is what makes this CD fun. Check it out on www.2unes.net.