Revisiting the past enables guitarist Les Sabler to move forward

Sometimes revisiting the past enables us to move forward. That’s exactly what contemporary jazz guitarist Les Sabler did when creating his sixth studio album, “Crescent Shores,” which will be released by Big Deal Records on August 3rd. Produced by Sabler and keyboardist-trumpeter Allon Sams, the genesis of the collection sprang from sessions recorded in 1991 in Richard Elliot’s Tampa studio. Sabler re-did most of the original tracks, composed new songs and selected a few covers to record for Crescent Shores. For the first time ever, Sabler exclusively played a nylon-stringed acoustic guitar throughout the album. The title track, one of seven songs on the disc penned by Sabler, was serviced to radio for airplay in advance of the CD release.

“Through two of my recordings, Sweet Drive and Bridge the Gap, combined with a recent trip to Brazil, I’ve found a fresh voice on acoustic guitar,” explained Sabler, a Canadian who has been a long-time Florida resident. “Shortly after releasing my first album, my band and I started recording material for what was intended to be my second album. We all lived in the Sarasota (Florida) area and I used to walk around Crescent Beach on Siesta Key. It inspired my songwriting. Some business challenges caused the shelving of the original tapes, but I rediscovered them recently. We transferred the tapes to digital and went back into the studio to finish what we started nineteen years ago. Teaming with Allon, we were able to strike a creative balance between the old and new recordings resulting in what you hear today on Crescent Shores.”

“Crescent Shores” fits neatly into Sabler’s catalogue as it is a contemporary jazz, R&B and adult pop collection executed with precision and passionate musicianship, meticulous production elements that favor a live sound, and well-crafted songwriting. Three cuts – “Market Street,” “Walfredo” and “Peace River Suite” (the latter of which retains an original performance by saxman Elliot) – did indeed appear on Sabler’s second album, Time For Love, but they were re-recorded. Also re-recorded were four songs from the 1991 sessions – “Crescent Shores,” “Island Princess,” “Turn Of The Century” and “Sunset Serenade – although some of the original performances were retained, including rhythm tracks laid down by drummer David “Frankie” Toler and the late bassist Bruce Waibel, both of whom had played with the Gregg Allman Band. Contributing beats to the new recordings were drummer Erik Hargrove (James Brown Band) and percussionist Joe Lala (CSNY, Bee Gees). In addition to delivering agile guitar work that took on added emotional depth through the use of his acoustic instrument, Sabler coolly crooned breathy lead vocals on “Lonely Girl” and “Mirror Of Your Heart.” A version of Sting’s “Fragile” appeared on last year’s Les Sabler Live CD, but appears as a newly recorded studio version on Crescent Shores. Another standout on the album is Sabler’s gorgeous version of Stevie Wonder’s ethereal paean “Overjoyed.”

Nominated four times at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, including twice each in the Album of the Year and Guitarist of the Year categories, Sabler’s formal music training came while attending Concordia University in Montreal and was completed with graduate studies at the highly-regarded University of Miami jazz department. Sabler’s first recording project came in 1989 when he was asked to score a Canadian Television Network documentary titled Lost Treasures of the Titanic. The following year, he released his solo debut CD, Hidden Treasure. Time For Love (1995), hit the charts and enabled him to land concert dates headlining or opening for prominent artists such as Elliot, Jeff Lorber, Spyro Gyra, Michael Lington, Diane Schurr and Fattburger. The title cut of Bridge the Gap (2003), which was also produced by Sabler and Sams, went #1 at Canadian smooth jazz radio and ended up #8 on the yearend chart. Sabler’s most recent studio release, the Brian Bromberg-produced Sweet Drive (2007), delivered a master’s class level of musicianship, performance and production featuring Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Ricky Peterson, Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuna, Gary Meek and the Jerry Hey horn section. The album placed top 50 in the 2008 Smoothjazz.com yearend chart. Smooth jazz radio program Café Jazz named Sabler the #1 most played Canadian artist in 2007 while Sweet Drive was the #1 most played album by a Canadian artist, and “Club Street” was the #2 most played single by a Canadian artist. Additional information about Sabler is available here.

The following songs appear on Sabler’s Crescent Shores CD:

“Crescent Shores” “Fragile”
“Overjoyed” “Turn Of The Century”
“Lonely Girl” “Peace River Suite”
“Island Princess” “Walfredo”
“Mirror Of Your Heart” “Sunset Serenade”
“Market Street”

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