March 19, 2012
“It’s amusing that Langer affectionately refers to Never The Same as his little art project, because normally that phrase means something a musician does for himself (and maybe a few friends) that has minimal mainstream commercial appeal. He takes an artistic approach to contemporary jazz for sure, mixing in a lot of dynamic old school soul-jazz textures (Fender Rhodes and Hammond B-3) and touching on various related styles, from Latin and edgy rock fusion to (on the album’s coolest, most unexpected excursion, “Upside Down”), straight ahead jazz. But avant-garde this isn’t. In fact, it’s one of the most infectious and engaging, instantly likeable in the pocket independent artist releases this year. It’s funky, it swings, it’s playful, it’s emotional – that’s a lot of places for a musical heart to go on one collection, but Langer does it all naturally and organically, supplementing his sharp array of sax sounds with real instruments and a lot of live band interaction. The title track everyone is hearing on The Weather Channel and YouTube is great, but just scratches the surface of Langer’s many musical muses. Let’s hope he does another “little art project” soon. All contemporary jazz albums should be this exciting.
By Brian Soergel, JazzTimes
March 24, 2012
“Saxophonist Charley Langer, who’s studied under jazz masters and performed with numerous artists on stage, brings his musical chops to the forefront in Never the Same, his debut CD. It’s smooth jazz with bite, beefed up with contributions from world-class musicians. The title track is a smooth jazz and YouTube hit, a free-flowing track with a memorable chorus and angular solos from Langer and electric guitarist Kurt Griffey. Langer is lively on “Epifania”, combining his soprano and alto sax attack with brassy trumpet and trombone from Tom Marino. Langer can jazz it up, as he does with “Giant Steps”-like runs on “Outside In” and “Upside Down”, a swinging straight ahead number. Blues influences seep into “Remember When”, and a dreamy Rhodes interlude from Wally Minko spices up the ballad “Refuge”. Sax, Hammond B3 and guitar lead the attack on the energetic “City Lights”, which leads to the after-party slow-burner “Gray Skies” and Langer’s long sax lines.”
By Sandy Shore, SmoothJazz.com
November 1st, 2010
Sax man Charley Langer delivers Intelligent Smooth Jazz on his new release NEVER THE SAME featuring some incredible world-class talent including Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report), Wally Minko (Jean Luc Ponty) and Michito Sanchez (Joe Sample). The project is consistent in that the artist delivers solid, well-crafted musicianship on every track, however, the collection of songs are wonderfully diverse ranging from smooth and contemporary to straight-up and funky. Think Phil Woods meets Boney James. Classically-trained, Charley composed nine out of the ten tracks on this project… and the songs are stunning… from the opening, title track, “Never the Same” (which is currently being featured on the Weather Channel) to the adventurous “Epifania,” to the trad jazz of “Upside Down,” to the deep and lush ballad “Gray Skies” which brings to mind classic John Klemmer. NEVER THE SAME is a lovely recording from beginning to end and guaranteed listening pleasure for sax fans!
By Kelly O’Neil, ReviewYou.com; staff writer for CCM, U and CrossWalk magazines
Charley Langer “Never The Same”
November 17th, 2009
Saxophonist Charley Langer has assembled a fantastic group of accomplished musicians for his debut album Never the Same. This is not the typical jazz compilation of artists but rather an awesome blend of classic rock, peppered with jazz with a hint of classical. Langer himself has a Masters Degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Southern California where he studied under classical saxophonist Douglas Masek. On the flip side, Langer currently is the arranger and wind section leader for Sacramento-based Steely Dan tribute band Steelin’ Dan. To help combine and perfect the best possible mixture of rock and jazz, drummer Ron Wikso, who has shared the stage with numerous rock legends, produced the album.
In the title track Langer plays alto and exhibits a well-controlled medium-fast vibrato at the end of his phrases. His bright, polished sound soars nicely over the rhythm section and his solos are crisp and not too busy. Every note is well articulated and defined yet rounded off giving a sense of aural smoothness. Langer switches to soprano in “Epifania” and blends extremely well with the tenor saxophone and brass. This trio of wind instruments expertly plays every trill precisely as one. Unlike the thin tone of Kenny G, Langer embodies a fuller sound on the soprano. Additionally, he utilizes the full range of the instrument instead of simply sitting on the high notes. Switching back to alto for “Once in a Lifetime” Langer this time blends nicely with the keyboards who crescendo on long tones underneath the saxophone melody, then burst out with fun little fills at the end of phrases. Renowned salsa bandleader Michito Sanchez adds to the energy with his esteemed percussion skills.
Another prominent musician on Never the Same is guitarist Kurt Griffey. Like Wikso, he boasts an impressive resume of rock gigs and adds a unique flavor to Langer’s songs that definitely make this jazz album stand out from the typical smooth Weather Channel tunes. “Remember When” opens with the electric guitar and like a flower unfurling its petals, the song slowly gains momentum before it reaches its stride where Griffey and Langer share a pleasant conversation. Griffey then expounds into a slightly overdriven solo that is dripping with sophisticated coolness. Like Langer, his tone is clear, expertly controlled and never obnoxious. In “City Lights” both musicians get a little more adventurous with their respective solos. Langer displays a formidable solo, wailing out the high notes underneath Wally Minko on the Hammond organ. Griffey’s solo is equally as awesome as he gets more tastefully raunchy than previously heard. True musicians of course have to be adept at different styles as is evident in the following track “Gray Skies.” This melancholy ballad displays soul-bearing musicianship, with Griffey’s playing this time oozing with sincerity as he solos with minimal effects.
The only song on the album not penned by Langer is the closer “Espressivo.” Not to detract from anyone’s fine playing, but the blend does not seem to work as well in this tune. Minko this time is on the piano, where he opens the number with a full minute of quiet, incidental music before the rest of the band joins in. Langer is on soprano again, but it inadvertently tends to draw attention to itself, not due to Langer’s playing, but due to the overall mellow timbre of the rest of the musicians. Mark Morris on guitar plays relaxed arpeggiated solos under the piano and Ed McGlaughlin on bass gets to solo – which he does a fine job at – but the soprano saxophone flourishes simply seem out of place with the rest of the song. It is not until the coda that an aural blend finally seems to have been established with Langer playing dreamy repetitive long tones, but this mood is unfortunately interrupted by the noodling and trilling in the fade out.
Overall though, Never the Same is an excellent album and a real treat for listeners who crave something new and exciting from the same old same old “smooth jazz” genre. Langer has made some excellent friends who will hopefully continue to collaborate and churn out more fabulous music.
By Dan MacIntosh, Indie-Music.com; critic for CMJ, Paste, Spin, and others.
October 28th, 2009
Charley Langer doesn't waste these tracks. If you take the time to listen, each one reveals a different side of his musical personality.
With "Never the same", he shows off an easygoing pop-jazz flavor. But on "Outside In", he's at his best while navigating a tricky melodic line over a funky bass part. "Gray Skies" changes tactics again; this time it's a ballad. What we see here is a jazz musician as jack of all trades, and a darn good one, to boot.
Bret Robertson, More than Noise
I have to say: what I like about Charley's music is its originality. To be honest with you, there are times I get asked to play stuff and when I listen to it, I think, mmm - this could be anybody. But Charley's stuff felt very refreshing.
Graeme Holiday, Phoenix 98 FM
Just downloaded "Never The Same", and it's awesome! I referred you to a few other jazz enthusiasts upon hearing it. If you're ever in Kansas City or Columbia (MO), please let me know! Thanks again, and keep up the great music!
I really enjoyed this. Since I play sax I appreciate it even more. Very well done. Good luck to you.
Great music! Smooooooth Jazz!
Nice cuts. Keep doin' your thing. I luv some serious smooth jazz.
Great stuff Charley! Glad I found your music!
Hey Charley, that's a nice sounding recording. Definitely fits right in the genre of the smooth jazz stations, don't you think?
Just heard some of your music, Charley....now I'm a fan as well! Great, refreshing sound!
Hey Charley, I'm a new fan, just heard your music tonight. GREAT sound and I do believe I'm the 1st fan to refer you to others on Facebook!! If you're ever in Albuquerque NM, I'll be there!! Peace, Love & Serenity,
Just downloaded "Never The Same" - awesome job!
WOW Charley! Love the clips on iLike! Looking forward to the album!
That CD is fantastic! We sneak previewed it at our Garden Party last month. Everyone was quite impressed!
Love your music, Charley.
Hurry up already!!! I've been waiting patiently but I think I might lose it soon...lol
Wow, this is fantastic music. Smooth and easy...I love it. I could listen to this all day long. Congratulations on work well done!!!!!
Hey I just found your site. Outside In is a great tune, and right now I'm enjoying Gray Skies -- very nice material!
I love listening to your tracks, Charley, but I especially appreciate hearing you live! I've made your stuff known to some new friends in Africa and want to at this moment reinforce the idea of your being open to that trip in the not too distant future!
Terrific work. I wish you all the luck in the world with your music. You deserve it!!!
Will be on both the look out and hear out for your music...
Carmen Yvette Williams