JazzTimes - p.143
"Brown's masterful at pushing buttons on the control boards, creating catchy moods and calling on well-known smooth-jazz talent to add their distinctive soloing."
Personnel: Paul Rayner-Brown (vocals, guitar, percussion); Al Jarreau (vocals); Jeff Carruthers (acoustic guitar, strings, keyboards, drums, drum programming); Jessy J (saxophone, horns); Euge Groove, Bobby English, Boney James (saxophone); Rick Braun (trumpet); Impromp2 (horns); David Benoit, Kiki Ebsen (piano); Jeff Lorber (organ); Al Forman (Wurlitzer organ); Gerald McCauley (keyboards, drum programming, background vocals); Mike Ballard, Joe Wolf, Blake Aaron (keyboards, drum programming); Dave Beyer (drums, percussion); Dave Palmer (drums).
Audio Mixer: Paul Rayner-Brown.
Recording information: Digital Zoo, Reseda, CA; Funky Joint Studio, Sherman Oaks, CA; Sound Shack, Studio City, CA; Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA.
Photographer: Sonny Mediana.
Arrangers: Mike Ballard; Jeff Carruthers.
Smooth jazz producer, arranger, and songwriter Paul Brown made the transition to recording artist with 2004's Up Front, which, like its successor, 2005's The City, was a Top Ten hit on the Contemporary Jazz chart. With a switch from GRP to Peak Records, Brown should continue his popular ways with his third solo album White Sand. He has enlisted more guests than usual this time, to the point that the disc is practically one of those "and friends" duets collections. Al Jarreau sings on "Make Me Feel So Good," Bobby Caldwell on a cover of "Mercy Mercy Mercy," and Lina on a cover of "I Say a Little Prayer." Among the star instrumentalists, Boney James is heard on "Ol' Skoolin'," David Benoit on "R 'n' B Bump," Euge Groove on "More or Less Paul," Rick Braun on "Mr. Cool," and saxophone newcomer Jessy J on the title track. The guests simply augment the contributions of the leader, however; Brown's guitar is a dominant instrument, and he has a vocal on a cover of "For What It's Worth." As the familiar titles indicate, he has taken inspiration from the '60s, but his rhythm tracks often have a current hip-hop sound, and the well-known lyrics and melodies will only serve to make the album more palatable for radio. Brown isn't interested in making any changes to smooth jazz except the occasional tweak to keep it sounding current, and this is another album that will please his own fans, and fans of the guest artists (whose discs were sometimes produced by him). ~ William Ruhlmann