Before some wonk coined the term “smooth jazz” and made a lot of good music share perceptual space with just as much forgettable sonic Valium, serious musos and casual listeners alike finger-popped to the jazz fusion of artists like Spyro Gyra, Bob James’ Fourplay, Jeff Lorber, and if you were anywhere in the northeastern U.S., Kilimanjaro. In the early ’80s, the Vermont foursome topped national jazz radio charts multiple times, and Homecoming, their first new studio album in over two decades, reminds us why. Latin and R&B rhythms pour the foundation for a melodic vision that blends blues, bebop, and major-key meanderings reminiscent of Pat Metheny’s American Garage. In this vein, “Neon Leon” simply soars, and the brass-fired “Maceo’s New Suit” does due justice to the other Mr. Parker. When it comes to combining complexity with accessibility, and skilled technocracy with soul, Kilimanjaro plays the A-game.
( kilimanjarojazz.com )