Endless Highway (Pacific Coast Jazz) begins with a nice chicken scratch guitar played through a wah-wah before a very boppy beat comes in and almost ruins the song. But what I want to hear is the saxophone work of Tom Braxton, and he sets himself apart from what’s going on around him in this song. The guy can play, and despite his mundane backdrop, I was entertained enough to want to hear more.
Fortunately the musicianship gets better as the album goes along. The majority of the songs are originals, whether it’s by Braxton or his bandmates. They keep to the jazz structure but they mix up pop and smooth jazz elements to create a very accessible sound that would be perfect at wineries or picnics. That’s not a slam to him or his music, but that’s what I hear. His version of America‘s “Venture Highway” is smoothed out with a soprano sax and acoustic guitar, and almost sounds like something that would be covered by Hawaiian groups with much success.
I like Braxton’s playing, so if you are a fan of smooth or pop jazz, this is a perfect addition to your collective. I would love to hear for him to get into some serious jams,something that goes beyond 4-6 minute song lengths.