British guitarist and composer Caleb Quaye, who rose to fame with Elton John’s 1970s bands and who is regarded by Eric Clapton as the best guitarist in the world, is the latest rocker to make the move to smooth jazz. An A-list studio musician, Quaye has worked on projects with artists likes Harry Nillson, Beach Boys, Joan Baez, Al Kooper, David Foster, John Klemmer, Eddie Henderson, Dusty Springfield, Liza Minnelli, Brenda Russell, Joan Baez, Ralph McTell, Pete Townsend, The Troggs and Hall & Oates.
Following in the steps of Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico, Quaye’s first studio album falls upon the heels of his live recording "One Night In San Dimas." On this recording, Quaye has enlisted the aid of some of the best musicians in the world, all of whom are known in the industry and definitely deserving of wider recognition. Pianist Charles Williams has worked with big name headlines like Philip Bailey, Andrae Crouch, Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, Stephanie Mills, Deniece Williams, The Midniters, Ry Cooder and Los Lobos. Bassist Robert Hill has worked with artists like Billy Preston, Sly Stone, Jimmy Smith, Rufus, Chaka Kahn, Bob Dylan, T-Bone Burnett, to name but a few. Drummer Doug Mathews has played with Phil Keaggy, Howard Roberts, Rique Pantoja, Rick Elias, Red Young and Tommy Walker.What makes Quaye such a good guitarist is not his technique, though he has that. What sets his apart is his feeling for the right note at the right time and in the right temperament. Quaye has the ability to play, with heart and feeling, the right turn of phrase at the exact right time. When given the opportunity to play with heart and feeling or to result to pyrotechniques as on the mid-tempo lush feeling "Just Passing Through," Quaye always turns to emotion and taste. His sense of line and melody easily sets him apart from so many other guitarists of this generation. Though Quaye is now in his 60s, he plays with the fire of one half his age combined with the experience and knowledge a lifetime at the forefront of the music business has given him.Endlessly inventive, Quaye never repeats any of his solo lines and for that alone, guitarists of every stripe will want to pick up this recording. On songs such as "Ask And You Shall Receive," Quaye shows restraint yet lines out phrases so perfectly balanced you instantly realize they could only be performed by one as mature as Quaye. This statement could easily be written about any of Quaye’s solos and with a backing band as talented as this one, you can only imagine how fun the studio sessions must have been. Quaye’s rock leanings come to the fore a number of times, most notably on "Pulling Down Strongholds." This slippy little riff tune will provide much for guitarists to dig on.On the downside, the recording falls into the trap many artists who move to smooth jazz from other musical disciplines make. The tempos are all relatively at the same mid-level clip and the chordal harmonics are not daring. While artists like Gerald Albright and Dave Koz make smooth jazz sound easy, it’s not. For a guitarist as brilliant as Quaye, time in the genre will help to refine and diversify his compositional focus. This recording, however, makes a wonderful opening statement.