Accomplished musician, teacher and songwriter Jeff Saxon has over fifty music awards to his name and has shared a stage with the electrifying charisma of Little Richard and the sensational saxophone sound of Dave Koz. With a passion for jazz, blues and Latin consolidated through R&B, Jeff’s “The Ukulele Project” promises a profusion of talents to permeate into our favourite instrument.
The Latin influence is apparent from the get go with the opening track Just The Thing To Put The Spring Back In You with its Bossanova rhythm complete with off beat Claves, happy jazz feel and impressively tuneful whistle. A dash of reggae and steel drum then lead us through The Isle Of Here And Now and indeed Make Your Own Good Time which also brings in some syncopated ukulele chops. There’s already a strong feel good vibe emanating from these songs, optimistic overtones each perhaps reaching out to liberate our inner sunshine.
There’s a foray into balladeering too with the wonderful Never Passé, perhaps reminding one of a poignant Broadway show tune with its beautiful and impressively twisting melody. Foxcalling too offers something new, a delightful plucked solo ukulele piece with plenty of reverb to let those overtones ring. But it’s certainly that clap-a-long smiling tempo that dominates, the instrument pep of Slinkety Slank adding funk no less into the mix with some great bass guitar work from slap to slide (Keith Jones) peppered by some sleek organ licks (Joey Navarro). A Ukulele’s All I Need is also worthy of note, especially on this particular website both in sentiment and style, a salute to the characteristic spirit of the great Lyle Ritz and writing talents of Randy Newman.
Aside from the fact I’ve had to tolerate a dalliance with Christmas in early September (The Gift Of You is actually a terrific song which will sit happily along side any of the seasonal greats on your compilation of choice… at the appropriate time of year of course!) I have nothing but praise for Jeff’s album and indeed talents. Jeff has a strong rich voice atop some tasteful arrangements and soulful playing which ardently support his musical intelligence and unquestionable writing prowess. “The Ukulele Project” is simply magnificent and if Uke Planet gave out awards Jeff would have another for his bulging trophy cabinet in an instant.