Review: The Smooth Jazz Ride

Mark Etheredge — Connected 

Feb. 11, 2016 

For those of you who really enjoy that Brian Simpson super-cool, clean and clear piano/keyboard style, you will instantly fall for keyboardist Mark Etheredge who rejoins the instrumental lane with his latest CD titled Connected, which follows his 2012 Change Coming adult contemporary vocal offering. 

With an approach that’s so hypnotically appealing, Etheredge brings that contemporary jazzy, bluesy, sassy, sauntering jazz along with some great big band horn stylings (check out for examples “Roger That” and “Lost in the Shuffle,” the latter featuring guitarist Paul Brown). 

Rolling in the funk factor just a bit, Etheredge makes sure that you’ll certainly easily find that sweet spot on the peppy title track, again featuring Brown’s sparkling guitar work. Then, there are cozy tunes like the Latin/Brazilian-laced “Cherry Cha,” the sophisticated and cool “For Your Love” featuring the trademark guitar work of Chuck Loeb (in fact, the track has that Fourplay vibe embedded in it), some of that upbeat island exoticism as found in the hook-rich “Bing Bang Boom,” and the dreamy, satiny feel of “Rain” which demonstrates the pianist’s extensive reach into the world of soothing and charming melody. Finishing it all off in solid fashion, Etheredge nips nicely at the edges of some blues with another edgy bit of funk on the finale “Soul Clap Honey.” Nice, tight, and worthy of a jazzer’s head bop. 

Etheredge is one of those artists who makes you wonder what the live performance feels like. There is controlled energy, soulful know-how, and a slick confidence about his work that reassures you it would be a feel-good concert very much worth attending. In my opinion, there’s no doubt that you would feel “connected.” Just take a listen to this project if you need proof. – Ronald Jackson, The Smooth Jazz Ride