"Playtime" Review by smooth-jazz-de in Germany

Guitarist Steve Watson was in earlier time a member of The Bruce Hornsby Band. Currently he is an adjunct professor at Furman University. His solo projects areWatson's Riddle (2011) and Heat Up (2015). In May 2016 he released his latest album Playtime. 

Watson is joined on selected tracks by Chuck Loeb (guitar), Jeff Lorber (piano, keyboards), Jimmy Haslip, Greg Alewinne (bass), Gary Novack, Tim Blackwell (drums), Ramon Yslas, Jeff Holland (percussion), David Mann (horns), Hazen Bannister, Wendel Donald (keyboards). 

With the exception of one cover song Steve has written all songs, in parts with Chuck Loeb and Jeff Lorber. The set opens with Playtime, which is in his perfection comparable to the style of Fourplay. There is an infectious and captivating spirit that springs forth from the guitar conversation between Steve and Chuck, a stunning milestone in history of contemporary jazz. 

Stones Throw presents Steve's tour de force on electric guitar and keyboardist Jeff Lorber also shines in all his brilliance. On Pear Bear Steve excels in sonic richness perfectly supported by David Mann's fulminant horn arrangement. Hazen Bannister reveals himself as keyboard wizard with golden hands. 

Reflections shines with wonderful guitar chords of an expanded and dynamic spectrum in dense and parallel layers. The striking multiphonic sound formations are reminding at Fleetwood Mac's Albatross. Steve Watson is such a genuine talent on guitar, that one has simply to enjoy his easy going guitar performance on Happy Evenings. 

Maria is a song from the Broadway musical West Side Story by Leonhard Bernstein. In order to make acoustic chord passages or solos a bit full, many guitarists use a reverb or echo effect. Steve's rendition of this song is deceptively subtle and a perfect implantation of this effect. 

Another song, another style. Top Cat is a potent jam with rock elements. An edgy power package full of vitamin. The album closes with a variation of Playtime, as bonus track. 

There are artists that toil endlessly in search of fame and fortune and there is Steve Watson, a guitarist focusing on what matters. Geniality as a self-evident presupposition with the highest artistic but exclusive achievement of making good music.