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Steve Oliver - Illuminate

Posted by April Galenzoski on 2018/09/12

During my eighteen years in the world of contemporary jazz, I can quite honestly say I have never met a performer more endearing than Steve Oliver. It's not just about his incredible guitar chops, his fine vocal talent of his off-the-chart showmanship either. It's about Steve as a person. As a human being. As a friend. He is just something genuinely unique.

And so is this new album. Illuminate is a bright, shining, glistening example of ALL that is Steve Oliver. Dedicated to late guitarists Chuck Loeb and Allan Holdsworth (obviously huge influences), Steve's first collection of new original instrumentals since 2012 is a radiant burst of musical sunshine!

With the lead-off single "Vamanos" (which means "Let's Go") we are treated to a Latin-infused, zesty confection suggesting palm trees, warm sands and salsa. "Full Tilt" kicks things off in typical Oliver style, all punchy, high-energy verve. The title track is silvery smooth, illuminating Steve's signature guitar style. There is definitely an "illuminating" theme going on here, with song titles like "Visions of Light", "City of Lightning" and one of my faves "Hidden Sun". And then there is "Soul Deep", so deeply soulful I literally had to put down my wine glass to fully enjoy it's passionate intensity.

The list of guests on Illuminate includes bass virtuoso Jimmy Haslip, Joel Taylor on drums and sax star Nelson Rangell. But it is Steve himself who shines most brightly. The final track, a sweetly simple reprise of "Illuminate," captures Steve's musical essence in a perfect patina. He can flash, he can glitz, he can sizzle and he can gleam. But when he plays his heart on his sleeve it is Steve's beautiful soul that is illuminated.

And that is a most radiant gift.
Thank you, Steve,

Vickie van Dyke
morning host

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