I’ve said here before that there aren’t that many great trumpeters in smooth jazz. Oh, there are the obvious icons and frontrunners like Chris Botti, Rick Braun and Greg Adams, to name a few of the few. Well, the field just grew by one in my humble opinion. The truth is that David Wells is not exactly new on the scene, according to the press sheet I read, having now seven albums to his credit. Seven! I would think that I would have heard something by this obviously talented horn man, my being so supposedly tuned in to smooth jazz. Well, I stand duly corrected and informed. He’s certainly on my radar screen now.
This latest offering Friday Afternoon is a cool and sassy collection of smart pieces, mostly covers or tunes written by guitarist Matt Marshak. I thoroughly enjoyed the nod to Al Jarreau’s classic "We’re In This Love Together," as well as his handling of Grover’s and Bill Withers’ always memorable "Just the Two Of Us." I sometimes hear pieces by trumpeters that simply don’t mesh well with the tune being played. The phrasings and the "fit" just seem "off." I think that’s a very key component to what makes the greats great: Their feel for what really and truly works. Wells seems to have such a feel. Simply put, I liked his style. A lot. I traveled all the way through the album without being misdirected once. No "speed bumps" or "blips" anywhere in sight. Just plain smooth cruising all the way. His careful, satiny manipulation of the notes is quite the endearing treat.
Friday Afternoon is another testament to the remarkable fabric that is smooth jazz. Full of vitality, fluidity and romance. That I have somehow missed this artist’s past gifts is a personal disappointment. Needless to say, I will endeavor to miss no more.