Of the nearly one dozen original studio albums released by smooth jazz guitar guru Nils, no project likely possesses more personal meaning to him than his latest project. It was during 2021, as the pandemic raged on, that the German born artist was criss-crossing the Atlantic to his birthplace of Munich to care for his ailing parents. It was during that rough and challenging span that Cool Shades was born.
While work on the album proved to be a cathartic experience of personal emotion, Nils still infused his album with those flowing, funky and stylish grooves that fans have loved throughout his career, including yours truly.
Whether you've been an avid fan of his musical prowess since the What The Funk? era, or that of other masterpieces like Pacific Coast Highway, Ready To Play, City Groove or from the very beginnings of his stellar career, Nils unleashes another critically acclaimed with this offering. "Nine 2 Five", his Billboard hit single, is trademark Nils with relentless flowing and addictive guitar melodies, high energy rhythm and a tight brass section to sew it all together on the albums first of what I am sure are many singles to come. Nils gets playful with a jazzy-bluesy rendition of Jimi Hendrix's psychedelic rock classic "Hey Joe", presenting it in a cool and stylish manner.
"Night In The Algarve" is reminiscent of old school funky soul that Nils has a natural penchant and talent for, a "Walkin' The Dog" stands out with chords so non stop and infectious it could easily be the hallmark of the 13 track Cool Shades.
The latest album is a testament to Nils' achievement of being named Billboard's Number 1 Smooth Jazz Airplay artist for his previous and magnificent release Caught In The Groove ( two Billboard #1 singles), and putting together a followup as remarkable as Cool Shades while under the cloud of a pandemic and caring for ailing parents I'm certain was not an easy feat. Cool Shades is ripe with Nil's style of funk, soul and guitar sophistication, and was honorably dedicated to his late father Kurt who eventually passed.
Reviewed by Stu Berketo