If you’re looking to curl up in front of a fire with your significant other, I can’t think of a better CD to play then Boz Scagg’s sultry silky new one, Speak Low. If you’re familiar with the funky Boz and his “Lido Shuffle” days, you won’t be getting too much heavy poppy grooves on this 12-song collection, but the man’s in fine voice and he’s got some great musicians backing him on this ultra-smooth jazzy set.
There’s the percussion-laden “Invitation,” the nice and sexy sax overlay of “She Was Too Good To Me,” some swishy vibes and piano on “I Wish I Knew,” and probably the most groovin’ song of the lot, the title song. Scaggs grabs the listener early and never lets go. He hits with a splendid, “Ballad Of The Sad Young Men” (maybe the best tune on the CD) and what’s sure to be a single, if the powers that be have any sense). At the halfway point, the songs really start picking up, starting with the upright bass/vocal cool/keys of “Skylark,” followed by the slow tempo of “Senza Fine” the middle salsa of “Dindi,” and the Vince Guaraldi-like swing of “This Time’s The Dream’s On Me.”
Special mention should be given to the variety of musicians, especially Scagg’s partner on piano and keys, Gil Goldstein, along with the vibes mastery of Mike Mainieri. It’s nice to have a stalwart player like Boz Scaggs putting out a new CD. The caliber of players he surrounds himself with, his limited yet expressive croon, and the obvious care he takes in delivering a contemporary jazz sound is unique in this pre-packaged age. Speak Low is not going to break any land speed records and there’s nothing here as foot tapping as “Lowdown,” but it is nice to have Boz Scaggs sliding his silky way across the soundscape.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.