I can hear the naysayers already. They’ll call this album a boring, derivative, smooth jazz standerbearer. That’s fine. Listen closely, though, and you’ll hear a soulful guitarist doing heartfelt covers of some of his favorite tunes.
Golub’s been around awhile. In the late ’70s and ’80s, he did the rock scene with Rod Stewart and Billy Squier. The past seven or eight years have found him dominating the smooth jazz field under the name Avenue Blue, and his own name. Those records were mostly killer, funky originals, mixed with a couple covers per album, and some guest vocals here and there.
On this one Golub (as the title suggests) records some of his favorite things, and gives them his own spin. Chris Rea’s “On the Beach,” AWB’s “Cut the Cake,” Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America,” James Brown’s “Cold Sweat,” Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” and several others get the treatment here. Golub’s playing usually spends time feeling out each song’s melody, and then adding his own soulful twist to the proceedings. His perfect bluesy bends, nice volume swells, well-placed octaves, and great tone make this one a textbook on soulful jazz. The arrangements are meticulous. Maybe it’s the fact that I love all the songs makes me love this. He also plays exactly like I would if I could cover these tunes. It’s a very weird thing, isn’t it, when you hear someone play a solo, and you go, “yeah, that’s how I would do it, if I had the skill and the opportunity?” Anyway, I like Golub’s playing about as much as anyone on the scene. Tasteful, soulful, and full of heart. – JH
This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.