Saxophonist Steve Torok has sculpted what is perhaps the most joyful reaction against the wintry gloom with “Blue Skies,” a sunkissed slice of jazz pop. One of the highlights from his new album Eye to Eye, “Blue Skies” has an abundance of badly-needed warmth and sweet sparkle. Vocalist Yvette Cason’s soulful croon sways in the breeze of Torok’s soaring sax and Reggie Hamilton’s funky bass. It’s confection for the ears, this jubilant piece. But the good times are only beginning.
A professor at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California, Torok knows the sonic highways of jazz instrumentation. However, it’s not just the technical mastery that will leave listeners in awe but the sense of fun and adventure that hasn’t left Torok’s creative vision. The Star Wars homage, “Imperial Funk,” strips John Williams’ original ominous image of marching stormtroopers and gives it a danceable kick. Torok snatches the indelible lead hook, sure to elicit huge smiles from the undying franchise’s devotees. The horn section is thrilling, and the starry-eyed piano blasts it into the outer reaches of the atmosphere.
To add to the feelgood vibes, “Summertime” features some of Torok’s hottest playing. Torok’s beach-baked performance and the frenzied congas produce a vision of a tropical paradise that most can only dream of right now.