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The makers of the number one selling soft drink in the world learned a tough lesson nearly 4 decades ago. If you have a winning formula and recipe, you don't mess with it. The comparison between the Coke gaffe of 1985 and the success of smooth guitarist, Les Sabler, might be a bit extreme, but the idea remains the same. Luxuriating in the success of his 2021 release, Tranquility, which I also had the honour to review, the Montreal-born Sabler has employed many of the same ingredients for this project and the final product proves that you don’t mess with success.

Back to produce Sabler's 2023 release is Grammy winning producer (and smooth jazz star), Paul Brown, whose insistence that Sabler change up his choice of guitar to a vintage 1967 Gibson Johnny Smith on the previous album, proved to be a major game changer. With Brown, who co-wrote all 7 original songs in place, co-writers Shane Theriot (Neville Brothers, Hall & Oates, Dr. John) and Lew Laing (Norman Brown, Marion Meadows, Gabriel Mark Hasselbach) also leave their respected and remarkable imprints on Sabler's 11-song offering of originals and some cool covers.

Overall Flyin' High delivers a well-balanced presentation of Sabler's infectiously written and performed melodies, coupled with precision arrangement and production. “New Bossa” is an uplifting track with an ear pleasing rhythm and certainly redefines our definition of the word 'boss'. “Moonlight” pairs Sabler with Laing on this co-composed track and displays the same chemistry as the two executed on their previous work together. Flyin' High's album opener, “Over The Top” is one of five songs co-written by Shane Theriot. Keeping in the mid-tempo range, Greg Vail sweetens up this track with his flowing flute.

Summer may be a memory in the North Hemisphere, but the season stays alive on Sabler's very sophisticated cover of the Lovin' Spoonful's “Summer In The City”. Lyric-less, his delectable chords merge smoothly with some fine horn section backing. One song that he particularly told me is among his favourites is “The Windmills Of Your Mind”. A cover of the Grammy winning song from the 1968 film, The Thomas Crown Affair, Sabler's interpretation gives it beauty and elegance with a Latin flair and nylon string performance. Joining him on keyboards is Canadian arranger extraordinaire, Lou Pomanti (Michael Buble, Gordon Lightfoot). According to Sabler, Dusty Springfield’s version was his influence for recording this track.

One very important talent to note is Geoff Pesche. He called Sabler's 2021 release, Tranquility, his favourite album of 2021  and was subsequently invited to master this new album at the legendary UK studio, Abbey Road, forever synonymous with The Beatles.

It seems nothing was spared to ensure that Sabler's ninth album either equaled or surpassed the success of his previous project, resulting in some of his finest work alongside some of the finest talent in the smooth music business. Flyin' High demonstrates that the ascent of Sabler continues its steady incline and fans will be thrilled with the ride.

Reviewed by Stu Berketo

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