Soul On Jazz
Review by Karl Lozier
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CD Number: Heads Up HUSA 9068
The Heads Up Company might not be familiar to you. It is a division of Telarc records and as you would surmise, they do pay close attention to sound quality and like the Telarc label this recording is a hybrid SACD/CD recording. It should play on all CD and SACD players and with multi-channel SAC players it offers 6-channel discrete sound quality.
If the name Philip Bailey is not familiar to you I would ask if you remember a famous group of the late seventies that garnered six Grammy awards and more than fifty gold and platinum albums. That group, Earth, Wind and Fire featured two vocalists, tenor Maurice White and Philip Bailey. Bailey was famous for his soaring four-octave range falsetto voice and the quite marvelous blending with tenor White. Bailey is also well known and respected for his gospel and soul recordings. With groups he also performs as an accomplished percussionist.
This recording really showcases Bailey's vocal talents. As the title implies both jazz and soul are to be found here. Sometimes they are mixed together and other times entirely separate. Of course nowadays it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to determine if something is really jazz; it seems to be open to a wide variety of interpretations if not definitions. If you like it, then it matters not what it is called.
Most of the album can be described as simply upbeat or jazz with definite suggestions of soul thrown into the mix. The selection "Compared to What", I found to be most unusual and interesting in respects to orchestration and effects and very upbeat. "Nature Boy" was just a bit too different for my taste. I still remember it from long, long ago done by Nat Cole and others as an extremely simply orchestrated and low-key ballad. Here there are too many unusual touches that I find distracting, others, not remembering it any other way, may find it very attractive with Philip Bailey almost whispering the words. As you listen to this wide-ranging album it should be easy to find some that are truly enjoyable. At times you will think there are two vocalists being showcased here. They are both Philip Bailey. From funky upbeat to beautiful ballads such as "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" there is much to enjoy. Though a bit compressed by seldom being extremely low in volume, sound quality is quite high and seemingly placing the group in a small nightclub performing just for you. Warmly recommended, particularly so if you are not familiar with Philip Bailey, and audiophiles will appreciate the fine reproduction of Philip and the supporting musicians.