March 6, 2010

Bernard Alcorn - A New Day

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. When, in 2000, Chicago guitar man Bernard Alcorn released the album Late Arrival the title could not have been more appropriate. Although he had been playing professionally for over 20 years his total commitment to music had been hampered by a parallel career as social worker and vocational rehabilitation counselor. Now, with his eye firmly on the musical ball, he is back with the extremely pleasing A New Day.

This cool blend of jazzy Benson-sque rhythms and smooth contemporary vibes signals its intent with an easy grooving take of the Outkast 2003 hit ‘The Way You Move’. When Alcorn pays his respects to the great Jose Feliciano with a tasty version of ‘Light My Fire’ and tips a hat to the Temptations with a velvety rendition of ‘Just My Imagination’ the results are just as good yet, truth to tell, there is enough original material on offer to demonstrate the credentials Alcorn has as a performer, producer and songwriter.

The Latin flecked ‘Bossamba’ is a tasty delight and contrasts nicely the happy vibe of ‘Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?’ Each demonstrates the capability that Alcorn has to produce music that is both interesting and innovative whilst this is further re-enforced by ‘SOS’ and ‘Future Steps’ which, each in its own way, deliver an edginess that is precious.

Although the infectiously jazzy ‘Keep On Steppin’ allows Alcorn to ratchet up the tempo he proves to be equally effective when easing it down. For instance ‘Down To The Wire’ turns out to be a deliciously chilled out slice of melodic smooth jazz and with a succession of songs that include ‘New Beginning’, ‘Where Is Love’ and the smoky title cut he maintains what is essentially a mellow mood. Similarly, ‘Nice N Easy’ could genuinely be cited as a metaphor for the entire collection and, whist it is right up there with the album’s best, a real Secret Garden favorite is the excellent ‘Chi Town Strut’. With sumptuous sampled horns and a great groove this one is a real attention grabber.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on

Posted by Denis Poole at March 6, 2010 2:13 PM