BET hostess and Washington, D.C. jazz performer Sunny Sumter has followed her very first album Getting to Know You with a second effort that is somewhat more daring than the first go around. More daring if for no other reason than the play list is handsomely dotted with her originals. She also explores a greater variety of tempos and rhythmic settings. Finally, the music is more contemporary, more progressive, probably in the hopes of attracting a different generation of listeners. Whatever the motivation, the result is perfectly acceptable even to this reviewer's generation of jazz devotees. The album is loaded with compelling contrasts. There's the haunting, lingering beauty of "Black Rose" placed against the sensually pulsating chant "Rite of Passage" with beats that recall the drums of Ghana. More variance comes with a Sumter penned "Never Let Go", a ballad warmly delivered to the strains of co-composer Vinny Valentino's guitar. One of the more tender moments comes with a different reading of Jobim's classic "Dindi" which becomes a framework for the entire session. Irrespective of what she is singing, Sumter's voice becomes part of the instrumental setting on each track. It's not as much as if there is a set of musicians backing the singer, but rather that all are musicians working together to deliver the message of each tune. This close partnership arrangement makes for a more active session. For example on "Nick of Time" there's Sumter reciting the lyrics with Ron Blake's sax doing its thing, with Valentino's guitar adding its voice all surrounded by the percussive effects provided by Go Go Mickey. It does tend to get your undivided attention as will most of the cuts on this recommended album.
Track Listing: Talking to the Sun; Nick of Time; Dindi; A Little Bit Longer; The Butterfly Song; Peace; Sister Cheryl; Travelin' with Juju; Black Rose; Not Yet; Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is; Never Let Go; Rite of Passage - A Family Chant
Personnel: Sunny Sumter - Vocals; Edsel Gomez - Piano; Vinny Valentino - Guitar; Ron Blake - Sax/Flute; Hans Glawischnig. Jon Benitez - Bass; Adam Cruz, Alejandro Lucini, Tony Citron - Drums; Pernell Saturnino, Go Go Mickey, Gilad - Percussion; Bro. Yao Dawit - Vocals/Bass; Mali Fleming-Smith, Alona Phillips, Alejandro Smith, Bro. Simba - Background Vocals