How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Former Earth, Wind and Fire multi octave head liner, Philip Bailey, continues to put the ingredients of both smooth jazz and soul into a shaker, giving it a vigorous churn, then pouring out his own special mix of R&B, soul and gospel with a dash of jazz. As on previous albums, he has recruited top smooth jazz apostles, the leading one being saxophonist/producer Bob Belden. Bailey also recognizes that he has to appeal to the younger set if he's going to sell his brand of music, which means a large dose of electronically crafted instrumentation. Consequently, the first cut, "My Indiscretions" has elements of hip hop built in as Bailey recites the lyrics while a bevy of background singers play Greek chorus - - not only here but throughout the session - - to make the transition from the spoken to the singing. Belden chips in with the instrument of choice for smooth jazz stars, the soprano sax. But Bailey is not about to get himself into a rut as he demonstrates with a swinging "On the Red Clay", with keyboard and programming support from Scott Kinsey, whose importance to the success of this disc can't be overstated. This track also provides room for a solo by a legitimate jazz instrument, the very good guitar of John Hart. There are also cuts that help establish that you can take the vocalist out of jazz, but not jazz out of the man. Bailey's falsetto rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Dear Ruby" (aka "Ruby My Dear") with lyrics by Sally Swisher is something to hear. Joe Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" comes right from the church gospel choir loft, with a soulful alto added by Lou Marini. A prime cut indeed. If you work hard enough, you can block out the ever present boringly repetitive backbeat of Billy Kilson's drums.
This album is a staple of the Heads Up label which is fast becoming the leading vehicle for delivering smooth jazz to the public. This is one of their better efforts as the music has character and variety, plus the very significant talents of Philip Bailey. Bailey's web page is www. philipbailey.com.
Track Listing: My Indiscretions; Dear Ruby; Compared to What; Nature Boy; Bop-Skip-Doodle; Unrestrained; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Keep Your Head to the Sky; Sometime Ago; Tell Me a Bedtime Story; On the Red Clay
Personnel: Philip Bailey - Vocals/Handclaps/Timbales/Background Vocals; David Whitworth, Charmaine Cousins, Billy Baker, Don Corey Washington, Robert Brookins - Background Vocals; Bob Belden - Soprano Sax/Handclaps; Scott Wendholt - Trumpet; Scott Kinsey - Keyboards/ Handclaps/ Programming/Rhodes; Mike "Dino" Campbell, John Hart - Guitar; Don Alias - Congas & Percussion/ Handclaps; Billy Kilson - Drums; Dave Love - Handclaps; Myron McKinley - Piano/Melodica/Keyboards; Alan Burroughs - Acoustic Guitar; David Dyson, Ira Coleman - Bass; Ronnie Cuber - Baritone Sax; Lou Marini - Alto Sax; DJ Smash - Programming; Daniel De Los Reyes - Congas