Composer/saxophonist Jessie Allen Cooper has a few releases under his belt, mostly of the meditative, serene variety. This latest, heralded as "The First Smooth Jazz Jam Band," is an exercise in the mellowest of mellow smooth jazz. While Let’s Connect may not be a meditative piece of work, unfortunately for smooth jazzers like yours truly, it’s also not a complete exercise in the livelier genre.
Keeping this all in the context of smooth jazz, beyond tracks one and two, both of which are very well produced, the album isn’t always terribly exciting or moving. It is, in fact, somewhat spotty and anemic. I must say that while the first two tracks were rhythmic and promising, the songs that followed never fully delivered on that promise. However, the album does offer a good deal by way of skill and melody. If melody were the only consideration here, this is a platinum release. I just felt no sparks nor sensed any overwhelming enthusiasm and I believe Cooper to be an artist more than capable of a mightier production. I so wanted to wrap myself around something here that set this release apart from other smooth jazz releases, if only in a small way. While there were spots, it just didn’t happen often enough.
Now, to say that this is a "throw-away" project would be totally and absurdly inaccurate. In fact, as another fine smooth jazz piece, it’s a keeper. Still, aside from a handful of really nice cuts, it’s just not a jarring, fully impressive set. The tempo and mood, like that on track four "Rio Del Sol," an otherwise rather exotic Latin-flavored tune, are simply without any real intensity in most cases.
Still, if you want music by which to clean the house or garage, wash the car or even cruise along in the car as you reflect on what’s most important on your mind at the moment, this could work. Having said all that, I personally will be listening to and watching Cooper for signs of that monster album I feel he’ll soon produce. My personal message might be: I like you, Jessie, I just didn’t feel the "oomph." How about once more with a lot more feeling?