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18 August 2017

1st review of “The Essential Collection” on the Smooth Jazz Ride

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U-Nam – The Essential Collection

Aug. 18, 2017

While we seldom, if ever, offer reviews of “best of” collections, guitarist U-Nam’s latest release The Essential Collection bears repeating a quick analysis of some of the grooves offered here and does also offer two completely new and hot tracks.

Drawn from numerous previous projects, the majority of tracks here should be familiar to U-Nam fans and should certainly capture new fans, as well. Included are tracks from his albums Back From the 80sSurface LevelC’est Le FunkUnanimity, and Weekend in L.A. (A Tribute to George Benson). If you missed picking up any of these gems, tracks like the romping lead track, a cover of The Crusaders’ classic “Street Life,” the supercharged, party-hearty “Going for Miles,” “Something’s Up,” “Throwback Kid” (definitely one of my faves), “Groove Paradise” (another of my faves), the hot and steamy groove “Shine On,” and the powerful “Back In Style (yep, another fave of mine – but then, so many are!) should convince you to grab this album to catch up (at least, to some decent extent).

Then, there are the newbies: A bouncy and lively cover of Barry “The Maestro” White’s “Let the Music Play” and the guitarist’s own slick, movin’ jam “Soul Breeze.” Man, can this cat throw a party.

In my review of his Surface Level release, I referred to him as a jazz superhero. Hearing these jams again and adding in the two new tracks, I have to say that he’s wearing that label well.

A busy man these days having started his own label and signing some real quality talent, you may have assumed that, at some point, he’d have to release a “best of” collection in the interest of time and to remind us of the top-tier material he’s released under his own name. Well, here it is, all dressed and ready to party with you. Do that. – Ronald Jackson