With this second volume of a five-part, multi-genre Outside the Box series, keyboardist/producer David Garfield explores the magic of R&B/soul and pop music through the lens of imagination and quality with Jammin’ Outsi ￼ de the Box. Like his first recording in this series, the straight-ahead-with-a-twist Jazz Outside the Box, this release is robust, full, and alive.
Touting a huge upscale roster of who’s who in the smooth jazz/soul/pop worlds that includes such top-tier artists as guitarists George Benson, Ray Parker Jr., Paul Jackson Jr, saxmen Kirk Whalum, David Sanborn, John Klemmer, and Eric Marienthal; bassist Marcus Miller, trumpeter Rick Braun, vocalists Smokey Robinson, Michael McDonald, Oleta Adams and Phil Perry, and a host of other luminaries, Garfield pours it on thick as he offers sterling, innovative covers of classics, as well as a few originals. The14-track album is a cornucopia of taste, charm, melody, and nostalgia.
An experience as rich as this demands your undivided attention as the album escorts you through such tunes as Stevie Wonder’s “Go Home” (dedicated to the late drummer Ricky Lawson); Adele’s “Chasing Pavements;” Chaka Khan and Rufus’ “Stay” featuring Richard “Moon” Calhoun on vocals, guitarists George Benson and Paul Jackson Jr., and saxman David Sanborn; Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You” featuring vocalist Lilliana de los Reyes (you’ve just gotta hear what Garfield & Co. do with this one); Sting’s “Fragile;” Bob Marley’s “Jamming;” Joe Sample’s “Rainbow Seeker;” Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” featuring vocalist Kenya Hathaway; the Isley Brothers “The Highways of My Life” featuring Oleta Adams and Phil Perry (the latter’s vocals have always reminded me of Ronald Isley’s vocals, making him a perfect fit for this tune); Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love” featuring Lamont Dozier on vocals, and many more along with sparkling original gems like “One Like You” featuring Smokey Robinson’s silky signature vocals and the flowing, tender “Harvest Time.”
The pristine colors that emanate from this most impressive production simply envelope one’s consciousness. A must-have if there ever was one.- Ronald Jackson