Funk, instrumental pop, and smooth jazz color Sheila E’s latest album with an easy-to-like coating. There’s not much to sink your teeth into, but her project does reflect cool waters and the things that make FM radio popular. A portion of “N Perfect Time,” Sheila E’s only lead vocal track on the album, is available from her web site as a 30-second QuickTime audio sample. In it you’ll hear the unique vocal style that has made her immensely popular for several decades.
After serious consideration of a career as an athlete, Sheila E. toured with George Duke in the 1970s when she was still a teenager. Her hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre” made Sheila E. a household name. A stong funk inspiration shines through in numbers such as “Protocol” and “Paragon.” The band gels readily as a result of its long tenure. Eric Leeds’ title track, “Writes of Passage,” forms the kind of smooth jazz that appeals to the masses. A sultry tenor saxophone artist, he relies on the band to carry an unhesitating rhythm. This is the kind of dreamy landscape we love to dance to while holding on to someone special. Marc Van Wageningen adds a pulsating bass solo while his rhythm-mates refrain from interfering. In several places, such as “Truth” and “Rituals,” the band heats up with crisp, fiery percussion textures supplied by siblings Sheila E. and Peter Michael Escovedo. Timbales, bongos and trap drums light up the place. These few opportunities contrast markedly with tracks such as the vocal pop “Rite to Paradise” or the piano driven smooth jazz of “Virtuosity.” Sheila E. has entertained listening audiences for more than a generation, and it’s good to know that she’s back in the driver’s seat once again.
Sheila E.- drums, percussion, vocals; Peter Michael Escovedo- percussion, drums; Renato Neto- keyboards, vocal, percussion; Marc Van Wageningen, Alex Al- electric bass; Eric Leeds- tenor saxophone, flute; Ray Obiedo- guitar; Dino Soldo- harmonica on
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