The ugly truth about smooth jazz is that you either feel it or you don’t. Those artists who have tried to craft smooth jazz recordings without the heart and soul of the musical concept buried deep in their character always end up producing listless creations. This is definitely not the case with the exciting young guitarist and composer Nick Colionne. His new CD No Limits is about as good as smooth jazz gets, literally jumping out of the speakers and demanding your attention. Full of solid grooves and hip melodies, this disc works on every level.
Chicago native Colionne turned pro at the age of 15 when he started touring the world with rock and R&B artists like The Staples Singers and Curtis Mayfield. In 1994, he went solo with It's My Turn, which reached #13 on the national charts. More recently, he was the winner of the International Instrumental Artist of the Year Award at the 2007 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, succeeding 2006’s winner, the ever popular trumpeter Chris Botti.
Stand out tunes on No Limits include the jumpin’ "Steppin’ Back" and "Godfather J," as well as the slick groover "No Limits." "The Big Windy Cat" starts out as a mellowish time keeper before kicking into high gear on the chorus before it ends with a swinging full out jam. "Until Tonight" is about as sexy a soul ballad as has ever been written and even when Colionne sings, as he does on "Melting Into You" and "Hard Line," where his heartfelt blues sentiment rings true.
Throughout the disc, Colionne’s melodically driven guitar is front-and-center. Rarely can an artist carry an entire disc on the strength of their singular sound alone. Solos from different instrumentalists are usually required to help break the sonic structure into bits of more easily digestible morsels. Not so here. We don’t hear another lead voice, other than Colionne’s guitar and voice, until a brief piano fill on the seventh cut "Ports Of Call," and even then, the new color was not needed. Colionne has the ability to provide enough variety on his own thorough the accentuation of different registers and stylistic variances. There is little to complain about and much to admire here. Let’s hope this young cat gets the attention he so richly deserves.