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Boz Scaggs returns with a mellow jazz album.

Music Review: Boz Scaggs – Speak Low

Boz Scaggs is now entering his fifth decade as a recording artist. His first claim to fame came in the late 1960s as a member of The Steve Miller Band; Steve Miller had been a high school friend. He played on the group's early classic albums, Children Of The Future and Sailor, before embarking on a solo career.

His 1976 release, Silk Degrees, sold millions of copies and produced such hits as “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.” He would continue to be a commercial success into the early 1980s with his form of laid back rock ‘n’ roll and occasional dance tracks.

Boz Scaggs has continued to tour and release albums. His sound has matured and increasingly become very mellow. 2008 finds him producing a light and laid back jazz release. He has assembled twelve classic songs by such composers as Rodgers & Hart, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer and others and given them a melodic but definite jazz interpretation.

The use of vibes, piano, bass and strings provide a nice instrumental bass for the album. Despite this under pinning, however, Speak Low is above all a vocal album. Boz Scaggs gives some wonderful performances on these tunes. Tony Bennett comes to mind as the vocals do not overwhelm the music but rather exists side by side with them and are both subtle and emotional.

The opening tune, entitled “Invitation,” sets the tone for the rest of the release. The use of a bass clarinet and vibes provide a nice nesting place for Boz Scaggs’ vocals to explore the song.

Other highlights include Scaggs singing counterpoint to the sax lines on “Save Your Love For Me,” the creative vibe bridge of “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” and the bass line-piano combination of “I Wish I Knew.”

If you have followed the entire career of Boz Scaggs, this album makes sense and it is a destination that he has been moving toward for a number of years.

Speak Low is music from the heart and soul of Boz Scaggs. It is meant to be savored and appreciated like a fine wine. It is music for the fire place as it allows the mind to wander. In a real sense he has arrived at a very comfortable place in his musical journey through life.

About David Bowling

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