360 Urban Groove produced by Higher Octave Jazz, a division of Higher Octave Music, known for such artists as Boney James, Rick Braun, Earl Klugh, Acoustic Alchemy and George Shearing bills Sommers as having "an infectious alto sound--dramatic, spirited, funky and unabashedly romantic." While that statement seems to be full of hype. Jimmy Sommers does does a decent job of combining the strength of his smooth jazz sax with the music stylings of R&B and a little taste of World Music thrown in for good measure. Sommers began playing the sax when he was in fourth grade, and had his first recording as a featured soloist with the MacArthur Junior High School jazz band. Later on, he began leading his own bands and once played the "Star Spangled Banner" at center court for a Chicago Bulls game. During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta he played at the Athletes Village. Eventually landing in In Los Angeles, Sommers played with a diverse group of musicians including Chaka Khan, George Clinton, Boyz II Men, 2Pac and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. As Jimmy Sommers first major debut album, 360 Urban Groove (which is getting some spins nationally according to smoothjazz.com) is a solid release with an interesting and high profile mix of featured artists including Les Nubians, Coolio, Ginuwine, and Eric Benet. .
Comprised of eleven (11) great smooth listening tunes (nine original and two covers) this is a great CD for just kicking back and relaxing. While the album as a whole is pretty good, there are a couple of cuts that really stand out in my opinion. Menage A Trois starts the CD with Les Nubiens laying down some cool, sexy vocals. Norman Brown plays the guitar and gives some scat vocals on the title track 360 Groove. Also make sure that you check out Sommers mix of the Boz Scaggs Lowdown. This cut features Coolio doing the underneath vocals. Finally, Sparkle provides some incredibly sexy vocals on the Steve 'Stone" Huff tune Loving You
So even though, at least in my opinion, Higher Octave can sometimes overdo the marketing copy on an artist or album, Jimmy does a pretty good job of living up the labels' hype.