Rhythm Logic

Rhythm Logic

Zebra Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Whether you call it "new age" or "smooth jazz," this particular genre of music is one where there is little middle ground. Either people are passionate about it, or they despise it completely. This was tested when two members of the "Daily Vault Research Listening & Snack Food Acquisition Panel" (their motto: "We laugh at death... and calories") had the chance to listen to the self-titled release from Rhythm Logic before I got my hands on it. One woman absolutely loved it; the other woman said it all sounded the same.

As I've gotten older, I've developed more of an appreciation for jazz, even though I'm still hesitant in the world of smooth jazz. But if all groups had their chops down like Rhythm Logic, I'd be listening to this genre a lot more. By merging solid mostly-instrumental originals with some well-executed cover versions, this is a group that puts life into a genre that some people might seem as sluggish.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The group -- guitarist Ron Smith (who reminds me a lot of George Benson in his playing), bassist Dwayne "Smitty" Smith, keyboardist Brian Simpson and drummer Michael White -- pour a lot of emotion into their playing, and you can hear it with every note. From the opening track "Tuesdays Love" on, Rhythm Logic is a winner.

On first listen, especially if you're into classic rock at all, you might find yourself saying, "That song sounded familiar." That happened to me on "I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year)", until I finally recognized it as a cover of Steely Dan. To Rhythm Logic's credit, they do an excellent job covering this song - although I wasn't crazy at first that the group had added vocalists to the project. (I was actually looking forward to hearing an all-instrumental album on the strength of "Tuesdays Love" alone.)

These moments of deja vu continue on "Fantasy" and "The First Time," though Rhythm Logic lovingly takes on each track, keeping the original flavor while injecting enough of their own original style into the mix. It's a very hard thing to pull off, but the band handles it with impeccable style.

The originals on Rhythm Logic are no slouches, either. Tracks like "Logically Speaking," "Take Me Away!," "Beverley" and "Full Speed" all capture the essence of smooth jazz while keeping the listener interested in each note. While I'll admit I would have liked to have heard the musicians really break loose, I guess that's not in the definition of smooth jazz. Oh, well.

Rhythm Logic is a superb CD that is well worth your time and money. Even if you don't like smooth jazz, you should be able to at least appreciate the musicianship that is exercised on this disc. Who knows -- if you spend enough time with it, you'll understand that this all "doesn't sound the same" -- in fact, each piece has its own voice that screams in its gentle way.

Rating: A-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Zebra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.