Darren Barrett

Mr. Steiner (The EVI Sessions)
(dB Studios)

It’s hard not to call Darren Barrett’s Mr. Steiner—a tribute to Nyle Steiner, the inventor of the EVI and EWI—smooth jazz. The music certainly references the r&b-influenced sounds of a very specific era. Ballad “dB Plus KG” is smooth enough as Barrett and saxophonist Kenny Garrett mesh. But the guitar-focused “Deal For Real” moves beyond the album’s intentions to become a touch more interesting. The shift’s a brief one, though, as “EVI Theme #1” seems like nothing more than a jingle. While Barrett’s utilizing a period instrument to offer contemporary ideas, those ideas simply creep a bit too close to the smooth world.