There's something about guitarist Ronny Jordan, and it's still refreshingly evident on his latest Blue Note offering.

There's something about guitarist Ronny Jordan, and it's still refreshingly evident on his latest Blue Note offering. This follow-up to last year's Brighter Day finds the self-taught acid-jazz practitioner alternating between groove-rich instrumentals and jazz-fused tracks showcasing rap/R&B vocals. Leading the former are the funky "No Pay, No Play" and the synthesized "Floor & More." The latter category shines, thanks to vocal turns by Fay Simpson ("Keep Your Head Up") and the underrated Sy Smith ("Once or Twice"). Channeling memories of major influence Wes Montgomery, Jordan may dismay purists with tracks like the trendy-sounding "Ronny, You Talk Too Much." But his distinctive ability to "vocalize" through his frets on such cuts as the title track and "Underworld" underscores the emotion and passion behind his work.—GM

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