D Rolark’s smooth jazz stylings are on full display in the prolific 12-track album This Moment. Capturing the mood and the beauty of nature, especially sunrises and sunsets, Rolark emphasizes the richness in piano and easy to step-to percussion. These instrumental achievements are all distinctively different, for a man that has instinctively created his own pallet of artistry.

Right out of the gate “Key Logical” sets the tone for a fusion of warm cymbals and a dah-dah-dah keyboard wave. The underlying guitar is also bright and steady. I liked the way the mood is mellow, but turns to a bit of urgency at the end of every fourth measure or so. The keys have an extra echo to them that lingers. Soon, the bass guitar gets into the jam ever-so-subtly. To start out this way – an uplifting jaunt really sets the tone.

Intuitively, Rolark’s collection moves along much like the day’s progression. He never lets up with positivity. In “Brighter Nights” and “Autumn Afternoon” intentional or not, the display of musical arrangements delights. As a listener, the interpretation begins to form scenes and chapters – some continuing in order – some not. “Autumn” seems to have this feeling of falling, like leaves on the tree, of the shimmering piano keys on top of each other. The piano is simply gorgeous. Fans thinking it will all be mellow and relaxation music will find what they like here. But, don’t dismay, these tracks also have an added layer of cardio. Rolark has the ability to pack a lot of emotion into each track.

“Come What May” (track six) has a bit more funk vibe. The percussion is more in line to a drum track, but the keys, oh the piano keys, seem to run circles around all the instruments. In “Rhythmic Essence”(track seven) the opening measures feel like a thump, a hard clap. This song gets the groove going and shoulders moving.

Track 11, “Laying It Down” gives some final push and pull to an already emotionally invigorating album. While track 12, “D’s Groove” attempts to seal the envelope on the long journey, Rolark leaves the door open ever so slightly to jump right back into track one and start again. In other words, this album is worth repeating over and over, and the listener will find little corners to discover. I do think, too, if listened out of order, the storytelling would still be there. The lovely thing about jazz music is its endless opportunities for vibe and rhythm. Rolark excels at this. Rolark’s spellbinding piano work adds such colors and juice to an already appetizing elixir.

The verdict – This Moment is a charming and undeniably smooth record. D Rolark gives his all in this emotive collection. Fans of smooth jazz, instrumental music and even New Age music will find comfort and inspiration in these 12 tracks. Besides the aforementioned tracks, special nod to “Love Eternal” (track five) and the title-track (track nine). Rolark gives the tools to his listeners to escape into his marvelous, colorful jazz world.

Nicole Killian

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