The Smooth Jazz Ride- Review

Paul Sawtelle & The Brotherhood of Soul

Feb. 13, 2015

We can all name at least one artist who started out as a producer, arranger, and/or opening act for some major artist. Saxophonist Paul Sawtelle has occupied all Paul Sawtelleof these positions and has loved every minute of the 30+ years he’s been on the music scene.

The saxman has played for President Clinton, worked with rock icons Heart, opened for artists from Savoy Brown to Jonny Lang, appeared on national television shows and, in 2008, won a prestigious Spelleman Award (the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammy) for his horn arrangements and playing on Sony Music’s extraordinary blues band Orbo and the Longshots album. At some point, he decided that the world should get an earful of a Paul Sawtelle album…which brings us to this strong debut project entitled Virtual Insanity.

Here is an album of many of Sawtelle’s favorites and two original tracks, both co-written with keyboard icon/producer/composer and fusion giant Jeff Lorber. While I’m not often impressed enough to offer a review on a CD of covers, this project begs exception because of its swagger and creative interpretation.

The album kicks off with one of my favorite rock tracks from the 70s by The Alan Parsons Project called “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” a very funky dance number for its time and represented well here on Virtual Insanity.

The album continues to impress with tracks like Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together,” and Sly & The Family Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay,” Sawtelle’s own “Stubble Trouble,” a funky mid-tempo number with rock leanings, and a cover of the groove-tight mid-tempo Jose James/Scott Jacoby pop/R&Bish track “Trouble” enhanced by vocals from Kitt Bender and Jessica Lynne.

All in all, a really decent debut for Sawtelle, and it solidly introduces him to those who may be unfamiliar with him until now. Two thumbs up. – Ronald Jackson

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