Sept. 30, 2009

O.k., I’m going out on a limb here and boldly state to all smooth jazzers: Oh yeah, you like this! This is the one that satisfies that pang for the kind of smooth jazz that makes one salivate and appreciate what true artists do in a studio with really good material and outstanding musical skills. The Dangling Success, with one other release under its belt, Chilled Champagne, is back again with its second endeavor, City Life, which actually tries its best to outdo the first — and makes one helluva gallant effort to do so. You be the judge as to whether or not it was successful in doing that. In the end, it really doesn’t matter because you’re getting quality smooth in both releases.

City Life is filled to the brim with exciting new material and a couple of strong covers, and it exhibits proficiency in developing great hooks, bridges, and melodies. Mark (Dr. Sax) Niekrewicz has a prescription for mediocrity that is spelled out clearly in the display of his sax work. He is firmly supported by a superb rhythm section that includes guitar work and substance that work, bass that gives the solid foundation upon which any really good product must stand, and drums that add to that support with serious presence and drive. Oh, and for effect, we get treated to some really cool scatting, too.

It’s very hard to argue with good music when it’s played with such fervor and feel. Every tune here is alive with spirit and soul. Everything is bold and shows grit where grit is needed. The opening track, a slow, heavy, and soulful piece, is a fun retreat from the usual get-at-‘em-from-the start approach by many; yet, this delightful cut reels you in immediately with its heavy presence and deeply soulful, rather reflective and even melancholy touch. Hmm…I think it can be determined that something deep is being said here about city life. The group’s rendition of the Rolling Stones classic “Beast of Burden” is extremely well-executed and is definitely a groove-maker, keeping one in dance mode throughout. Speaking of covers, the group’s interpretation of Carlos Santana’s “Europa” is magnificent, with Niekrewicz’s sax doing the solo honors.

The vibes throughout this release just feel so good; the sound is so fresh and uplifting. I, being a big melody person, found some real solace here. You want some funk in the mix? See if “Private Party” can’t fill the bill for you. This mid-tempo clean and dirty funkster gets it done in fashion.

The Dangling Success, should it continue in this vein, is on course to becoming one of my favorite groups, just due to its most satisfying combination of great material, musicianship, and just knowing what “floats the boat” of most jazzers. If it hasn’t reached it yet (hard to believe), success should be within arm’s reach with quality like this. Finding this pearl in the sand was a real treat for me. I’m sure you’ll agree once you give it a moment of your ear’s time. — Ronald Jackson

There is no Amazon MP3 music sampler available for this CD. However, you can preview the CD at