Munich-born smooth jazz guitarist Nils has shown that his success with his debut album Pacific Coast Highway was definitely no fluke. His fluid, yet stinging high-energy technique has transferred itself to this latest venture, a hot, solid follow-up that’s sure to cement him in the higher echelons of smooth jazz artists.
The title cut is quite appropriately titled as Nils rushes in to show that he is, in fact, more than "ready to play." The piece is full of charge and vigor, not to mention crisp licks. It’s pretty clever how he then begins to set a mood that takes us on a really enjoyable ride, alternating paces comfortably. After the fiery "Ready to Play," he follows with the very moderately paced, smooth, precise, and deliberate "Just Smile," a head-bopper of the first order. He then slows the pace a bit more to the bluesier, moodier, throatier "Catnap," one of my favorites. He picks up the pace a tad again with "Midnight Breeze," a very catchy and funky little number very reminiscent of his debut CD’s hit "Summer Nights," another of my favs. His renditions of Desiree’s "You Gotta Be" and The Temptations’ "My Girl" are also pretty potent. It’s the cut in between those two, however, "Dreamin’," that is truly a dream. Mellow, moderately paced, with a noticeably sweet melody, it’s the cut you want steering you along the Pacific Coast Highway this time on a warm, moonlit night and preferably not alone.
We jazzers should feel fortunate that we didn’t lose this versatile guitarist-composer to another genre, as he originally entertained the idea of following his early idols, rockers Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Don’t get me wrong: Deep Purple and Zeppelin were/are hot in their own right, make no mistake. Having spent some time in their world, I know, as do many of us, I’m sure. Still, now that the "converts" among us are all here in jazz, I’m glad Nils made the choice to join us! Call me selfish.
Along with recording the basic tracks for this album in his fully equipped home studio, Nils also features all of the members of his current touring band. That means seeing him live will definitely be a treat...and seeing him soon is definitely on my agenda.