Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Friday, August 4, 2017

John Klemmer - Touch (1975)

This early smooth jazz release finds saxophonist Klemmer teaming up with such session greats as Dave Grusin, Larry Carlton, and Joe Porcaro as well as "borrowing" drummer John Guerin and bassist Chuck Domanico from Tom Scott's L.A. Express. It's all mid-tempo, laid back, and easy to listen to. I've read a few reviews that credit this as being the first smooth jazz album - I'm not ready to make that call and I'm sure Bob James, Grover Washington, Jr., and other musicians would have something to say about that claim. Speaking of other musicians, Grusin's electric piano work on this thing is outstanding and even steals the show on a few of the tracks.

Klemmer has a pleasant tone and doesn't get overly showy in his soling, which I appreciate. So the key to any Klemmer album is the writing. While there are some tunes here that tend to meander without much melody, there are a few standouts, including the title track, Glass Dolphins, Sleeping Eyes, and Tone Row Weaver. Skip the final track, Walk With Me My Love And Dream, which includes "vocal narration" from Klemmer himself and features overdubbed flute.

This stuff all sounds fairly normal in 2017, but how groundbreaking was it in 1975? Let's check some of the original reviews:

Record World, October 18, 1975, p. 18
Cash Box, October 18, 1975, p. 24

A transcendent talking stick? Sheesh. And the writing isn't much better over at Amazon:

  • "I generally don't like jazz but this is a must have album"
  • "This music is was what the saxophone was truly invented for (not nonsense like classical applications)."
  • "chocolatey melodies to soothe away the day's stress, and cocoon you in a warmly textured bath of restrained, healing sounds."
  • "I was 'touched' by this compilation "
  • "this may be the greatest make out album ever."

Okay, so that last bit might be good advice.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #90
Peak on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart: #6
Peak on Cash Box's album chart: #143

Tracks: See above.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None. I don't think I had even heard of Klemmer until I was putting together a list of Billboard jazz album charts a few years back. Then I started streaming some of his stuff and have since picked up a few releases.

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