Shilts is Definitely Coming on Strong

Written  by Michael Marsh

With his release of “Headboppin’ “, on the Artizen Music label, Shilts presents us with his second solo project.  “See What Happens”, his first solo CD release on the Higher Octane Jazz label in 2001, received some airplay on the smooth jazz radio stations, but it was, for the most part, a pure instrumental rhythm and blues CD.  With “Headboppin’ “, Shilts presents us with a body of work that will be much more acceptable to the fans of smooth jazz.  In fact, this is a very nice smooth jazz CD.  Perhaps as an acknowledgement to us, that he realizes that “See What Happens” didn’t really fit within the smooth jazz mold, the first cut on “Headboppin’ “ is entitled “Look What’s Happened”.  This one really rocks, but in the smooth jazz mold rather than the R & B mold.  On his second cut “I Knew You’d Like This”, Shilts presents us with a jamming instrumental, that sounds as if it was lifted straight from a Down To The Bone CD.  I really like the first two cuts a lot and, I suspect you will too.  With “Break The Mold”, Shilts keeps the beat rolling upbeat and light.  It’s a little mellower than the first two cuts, but still manages to have a funky edge to it.  With his fourth cut “Good Evans”, Shilts presents us with the song that I believe should get the most airplay on the smooth jazz stations around the country.  Shilts is joined by Rick Braun on trumpet, Jeff Lorber on keyboards, and “Ready” Freddie Washington on bass on “Good Evans” and, they really lay the groove down strong on this one.

Siedah Garrett co-wrote the sixth track “Got Love” along with Shilts and, also adds background/lead vocal to the groove.  “Got Love” is another upbeat number that is actually more in the jazzy R & B vein, but it is a very enjoyable listen.  The title cut “Headboppin’ “ comes next, and on this one, Shilts presents us with another jamming instrumental piece that will definitely have your body rocking and your head boppin’ from side to side.  With the seventh track on the CD, “Say Something”, Shilts finally gives us the first mellow cut on
the album, and even then, the background is slightly upbeat and funky.  “Tuesday Heartbreak” gives us Shilts interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s classic and, he’s joined by Chris Standring on guitar for this session.  They play it close to the vest, without a lot of improvisation, for the first two and a half minutes of the song, but in the last minute and a half, they definitely stretch it out a little and add their own personal signature to Stevie’s original vision.  With the ninth track, Shilts gives us another smooth jamming number entitled “2 Pesos For Bud”.  This cut is okay, but I didn’t find it to be as enjoyable as the rest of the CD.  Shilts ends his set with "Mrs. Magic", another upbeat number that has a slightly funky edge to it.  It is definitely a good ending for an enjoyable ten song set.

Overall, Shilts is a good CD and I give it 3.75 stars out of a possible five.  It is definitely worth a listen and I think if you do give it a listen, you’ll ultimately want to add it to your collection.

Michael Marsh is the jazz reviewer for TNCP. To make contact, you may e-mail him at for review.