You may have never heard the flute played like this until you’ve heard Bradley Leighton‘s twitters and flaps. He plays the flute like it moves with the swiftness of guitar chords, the liquidity quality of the keyboards, and possesses the enigmatic presence of the saxophone. He turns his flute into whatever instrument he wants it to be. His latest release Soul Collective, produced and arranged by Allan Phillips, is Leighton’s fourth studio album. The songs display a sinewy soul-funk stylistic that shares an association to the work of saxophonist/producer/arranger Darren Rahn and peppered with R&B influences that have an attachment to Earth, Wind & Fire and Tavares. Soul Collective features several guest musicians such as saxophonist Tom Scott on the remake of the Hall & Oates pop single "She’s Gone." The interplay of instruments is kiln by a mellifluous gloss as the notes build into billowing crescendos and taper off in the outro. It pumps a euphoric air into the album, which is geared towards a dance-funk destination.
Saxophonist Tom Braxton and Leighton lead the trail into dance-funk domains with the opening track "It’s On." The flexibility in the joints that connect the flute and saxophone phrases together enables the melody to bend in ways that mesmerizes the listener. The album keeps to its mission providing a peppy strut with the Latin-flavoring of "Café Con Leche" featuring guitarist Evan Marks who trades off his riffs with Leighton and produces wavelets of vivacious dynamics. "Wake Up Call’ brings the horns to the front cultivating an allegro tempo shaped by swiftly moving segments buttered in coasting legato grooves. Vocalist Paula Prophet’s singing on "That Man," which is written by Prophet, moves with a loose swagger and blissful fluidity that shines with R&B/soul cinders. Leighton gives country diva Bobbi Gentry’s classic tune "Ode To Billy Joe" a smooth jazz treatment that brings out its silky curvaceous ride. Leighton keeps the music dancing with prints of gentle motifs on "Rock Me Softly" and "Undercover." The final track "Keep That Same Old Feeling" is a remake of the Crusaders hit song and sung by Katresse Barnes delivering a smooth sensuality that lulls the listener with pacifying tones.
Starting out in Tacoma, Washington, Bradley Leighton has made a name for himself in smooth jazz cliques amassing a sweet lineup on Soul Collective that additionally includes Greg Adams on trumpet and flugelhorn, Mic Gillette on trumpet and trombone, and Jason Miles on keyboards. Leighton debuted in 2003 with his solo album Groove Yard followed up with his 2005 release Just Doin’ Our Thang. His third album Back To The Funk is comprised of inventive arrangements and standards that gave him critical acclaim worldwide. His latest release Soul Collective is to Bradley Leighton what Grand Central is to Jeff Golub’s catalog of music. It is an album that shows where Leighton has come from, what he has learned to do with his talent, and introduces audiences to the friends that he has met along the way. Soul Collective is a personal best for Leighton who can make his flute sound like anything that he wants it to be.