It's compilations like Florida based saxman Eric Darius' Just Getting Started that reminds us of the reason why we love contemporary jazz music in the first place. Scheduled for a March 7th release, this CD is the follow up to Darius' successful debut CD "Night on the Town" from 2004. Just Getting Started boasts of 11 gorgeous tracks and Darius has employed the services of a few friends on a list that reads like the who’s who in contemporary jazz music. Heavyweights like Brian Culbertson, Euge Groove, Jeff Lorber and Darren Rahn have all lent their musical expertise either by a guest performance or producing tracks.
From the get go, Darius aims to please as he blows rapid fire into the CD's welcome mat "Steppin Up," a joyful romp that features Darius' tight intonation gliding in and out of this steady groove. Matching the opener's cadence is the infectious "Groove On" and the hip-hop tinged "Can't Let Go." Elsewhere on the CD, the party never stops with such jams as "Slick" and "That's What I'm Sayin," two tracks which are guaranteed to heat up contemporary jazz radio formats almost instantly. He later gears down musically to cater to the lover in you as in the case of "Lover's Paradise," "Right Here, Right Now" and the evocative sounds trapped in "Secret Soul."
Listening to this CD, it's hard to believe that Eric Darius is only 23 years old and a newcomer to the genre. He comes across as a seasoned professional as he displays cohesiveness with his recording band. This is evident on the delightful reworking of Alicia Keys’ "If I Ain't Got You," where Darius injects his sax dynamism fluttering this way and that within, making the single his very own. "It's Alright With Me" is another romantic track with a sensual groove that gets its shine from Darius' sax riding atop a lush melodic progression. The latter is an instant favorite that may get more than one spin in just one setting. This CD would be released under the Narada Jazz label, which is a big deal for any new artist since it's one of the premier jazz recording labels.
In conclusion, Eric Darius is right up there with the Najee's, the Gerald Albright’s and the Art Porters. He's that good and so intelligent and unpretentious is his sound. Indulge!