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Single Review: Geno Marriott “Take the Time: Smell the Roses”

Although slowed down to maximize the sensuousness of the adjacent melody, the beat in Geno Marriott’s “Take the Time: Smell the Roses” is certainly as expressive a component as any lyrics would have been. Truth be told, I think the absence of conventional verses makes the instrumental lustiness of this piece all the more communicative, allowing for Marriott to take the harmony out for a walk here. “Take the Time: Smell the Roses” isn’t completely devoid of lyricism, but for the minimalism it exhibits cosmetically, this is definitely one of the more tuneful and passionate performances in smooth jazz I’ve heard recently.

The melodic placement of the instruments facilitates an eroticism in this piece that could never have been emphasized with a grander percussive foundation, and being that the mix is devoid of any over the top physicality, we’re always able to focus on the fragility of the harmonies rather than the beefiness of the instrumentation. This arrangement is at times as light as a feather, but with someone as disciplined in his delivery as Marriott is, we can rest assured that the very notion of discord will never get into the big picture of “Take the Time: Smell the Roses.”

To this end, the way Marriott structured this single is an homage to the simplicity that smooth jazz was built on back in the 1980s as opposed to the plasticized pop componentry it increasingly embraced closer to the start of the millennium. I love that this player is putting as much effort into creating space between the instruments as he is whilst allowing for a solid harmony to still penetrate even the heaviest of grooves (none of which, in this track, become too weighty for the melodies). He’s a deep-thinking artist, and you can’t argue against that in a piece like this one.

There are quite literally no frills to be found in “Take the Time: Smell the Roses,” including in the gorgeous music video made in support of its release. The video has Marriott’s play taking control of the narrative in every department, juxtaposing his performance with the vulnerability of nature to spotlight the emotion he’s investing in this material. It’s difficult to see content like this and not feel a connection with the story being told, even if it is one that’s implied almost exclusively through harmony as opposed to poeticisms of a poppy variety.

For serious and causal fans of smooth jazz the same, “Take the Time: Smell the Roses” is a surefire winner in 2022. Geno Marriott shines beneath the spotlight like a diamond of a player in this single, and for all that the song lacks in the traditional pomp and prestige this strain of jazz has become known for in the past couple of decades it more than makes up for in sheer originality, personality, and emotional contextualization through compositional simplicity. All in all, I think Geno Marriott has a gem of a release here, and one that his fans aren’t soon to forget.

Aliaa Garza




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