As a guitarist, Steve Oliver is an artist that consistently pushes the envelope of creativity with every album he records. His unconventional approach to jazz is often energized by the influences of rock and pop styles of music. Since arriving on the scene in 1999 with his debut release First View, Steve has consistently charted with his varied array of synchronized grooves. He has pioneered a formula that truly works for his fans with offerings of high-end melodies highlighted by a symphony of guitar licks.
His newest recording entitled Radiant continues a programmed approach that has a variety of styles to complete eleven dynamic tracks of orchestrated delight. The theme he has chosen examines Radiant’s sensory message, a common theme celebrating life. Another compelling thought may be Steve Oliver’s musical renditions, which are characterized by a prophetic mix of virtual guitar sounds.
The CD contains music that pulls listeners into every harmonic note while displaying an underlying charismatic cool. Oliver does so without the stigma of fundamental complacency. Also found within the album’s eleven tracks are vocals that are sometimes not needed. However, a degree of flexibility can be found in overall effect. At times, the idea of jazz is not heard very well on many of Steve’s recordings to include Radiant. Sometimes his music sounds like a hybrid of rock. But in the genre of what is inferred on this CD, I must stipulate Steve has found a way to meld that influence into his idealized concept.
When Oliver went into the studio to record Radiant, he decided to focus more energy on guitar and voices, which is a definite mainstay of rock music. That distraction in itself does not necessarily mar his original intent to provide a mechanism for groove induced seductive jazz originals and covers. These attributes along with Steve’s light-hearted ideas and the stellar cast of characters he has chosen provides Radiant with a unique contagious appeal..Coming along for the ride on this latest addition to the Oliver family are a number of individuals that reads like a Who’s Who in Jazz. Prominently featured throughout this release is Spyro Gyra’s Tom Schuman, who also served as co-producer on a couple of tracks. Keyboardist Michael Broening, who is a founding member of the group Turning Point, participated on nine of the album’s tracks as well. Also accompanying Oliver on instrumentals comes trumpeter Steve Madeo, who is often heard backing up singer Stevie Wonder. Other stable mates include saxophonist Michael Paulo and famed rhythm specialist Christian Poezach. The collective zeal that is so dramatically demonstrated on such tracks as "Bend or Break," "Cool," "Reach The Sky" and "Shine" brings on a firestorm of varied influences. One other cut made famous by Stephen Stills entitled "For What It’s Worth" catapults Steve Oliver and his band of merry men into reminiscent days gone by when the vestiges of the Viet Nam war were in the headlines of 1966. On that song, it seems to be de ja vu all over again. As one looks at Steve’s work in totality, Radiant speaks with a wide variety of voices, many of which speak of life and the dynamics of everyday living.