by Oscar Groomes | O’s Place Jazz Newsletter
O’s Notes: Guitarist and composer Gary Dean Smith leads a strong band including Phil Reyes on sax and flute. Awakening is wholesome R&B with Mer Sal singing visions of hope on several selections notably the title track and the sizzling “Lucky” featuring Jeff Lorber (keyboards), Gary Novak (d) and producer Jimmy Haslip (b). The instrumentals are just as good. It’s a rather abbreviated session with only five songs and 22 minutes but we enjoyed it.