Get this crazy baby off my head!


Steve Oliver

Steve Oliver - One Night Live [Audio CD 2] - 2008 - NuGroove Records

Cynics who don't get smooth jazz -- and wonder why thousands of passionate genre fans spend their hard-earned money every year on the genre's many festivals and cruises -- just listen to the radio too much. No matter how catchy the songs are, the airwaves just don't capture the potential magic and fire of a live performance. That goes for most of the format's big artists, but few have been as compelling on-stage as the multi-talented Steve Oliver, whose soulful vocals and snappy guitar lines are just the beginning of what is essentially a one-man orchestra capable of numerous sonic delights; these include wild and crazy vocal percussion, breezy wordless vocal joys, and -- as evidenced by the "Guitar Demonstration" of this exciting live CD/DVD package -- a synth guitar that can simulate everything from a grand piano to bass, flute, and orchestrated strings. In the economic climate of the late 2000s, a dual package like this seemed like a calculated commercial risk. But as wildly compelling as Oliver's instantly infectious songs are on the ears, the visual entertainment he provides and the way his grateful audience responds (at any of his 200-plus performances annually) make a DVD of one of his classic performances (at the State Theatre in Modesto, CA) a must. Oliver doesn't go crazy finding new twists on instrumental hits like "Magic World" and "Chips and Salsa," but they are still some of smooth jazz's best songs and are always fun to hear. On classics like "I Know" and new tunes like "Fearless," he also shows his penchant for romantic lead vocals. The title of one of the package's later uptempo tracks, the breezy top-down "Feeling Good," sums up the charms Oliver offers throughout. Beyond the 13 live performances, the guitarist adds two new studio tunes, the catchy vocal "This Fire" and a cheerful new instrumental, "On the Upside," which is just that. The DVD features a behind-the-scenes segment and a lighthearted explanation of the artist's "guitar orchestra" that shows his truly "Radiant" personality one more time. If this blisteringly happy disc doesn't make you feel all Disneyland, no music released in 2008 will. © Jonathan Widran © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/one-night-live-r1390424/review

This blog does not normally cover "smooth jazz". Smooth jazz can often be dull, bland, soulless, and uninspiring, and hundreds of these background elevator music albums are churned out daily. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and every so often a "smooth jazz" album comes along that actually shows some musical inventiveness and great musicianship. Artists like Spyro Gyra, Fourplay, Larry Carlton, George Benson and many others have recorded quality albums that can be easily isolated from the usual "same old, same old" smooth jazz sound. Steve Oliver's "One Night Live" recorded live at the State Theater, Modesto, CA, is an exceptionally good album. Steve wrote all 15 tracks on the album, and with the exception of percussionist Humberto Vela and saxophonist Warren Hill on a couple of tracks, Steve as well as playing guitar and being the main vocalist created all the other musical sounds on the album using his synth guitar. Listen to Track 3, where he demonstrates a few sounds. The results are very impressive. The guy is a one man orchestra! Listen to Steve's exceptional "Positive Energy" album, and his "Global Kiss" album which covers world, contemporary, soul and pop music


1 Magic World 6:14
2 First View 5:08
3 Guitar Demonstration 2:16
4 I Know 6:36
5 Chips and Salsa 4:17
6 Sojourn 4:53
7 Fearless 5:25
8 Show You Love 3:43
9 Wings of Spring 4:28
10 Bend or Break 4:39
11 High Noon 5:23
12 Feeling Good 5:34
13 Radiant Dreams 6:10
14 This Fire [Bonus] 4:16
15 On the Upside [Bonus] 3:39

All tracks composed by Steve Oliver


Steve Oliver - Guitar, Vocals, Synth Guitar
Humberto Vela - percussion
Warren Hill - sax


Playing sideman to Rick Braun, Larry Carlton, Gato Barbieri, the Neville Brothers, and many others introduced guitarist/vocalist Steve Oliver to smooth jazz fans, but it was with Steve Reid's band that Oliver found a following. It was 1996 when Reid contacted Oliver at the last minute to fill in for a canceled opening act. Oliver hit the stage as a solo act and Reid was impressed with the guitarist's vocalese skills and summery sound (Oliver is a California native and a true follower of the laid-back lifestyle). Oliver had come to vocalese not through King Pleasure or Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, but through Bobby McFerrin and Pat Metheny's work with Richard Bona and David Blamires, who sang along with guitar solos. Being a fan of the earthy Metheny sound, Reid hired Oliver after the gig and featured him in his touring band. Reid's Mysteries and Passion in Paradise albums featured Oliver not only as guitarist but songwriter as well. Oliver struck out on his own in 1999 with his debut, First View, released by Night Vision. The album spawned three hit singles on smooth jazz radio and earned the guitarist a Debut Artist of the Year award from Smooth Jazz News. Duties in Reid's band kept Oliver busy until 2002, when he released Positive Energy on Native Language. Spyro Gyra keyboardist Tom Schuman was in the producer's chair for Oliver's third album, 3-D, released by Koch in 2004. © David Jeffries © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/steve-oliver-p111165/biography