Monday, 2 February 2009

Various Artists - Forever, For Always, For Luther – Vol. 2 Rendezvous

As you can see, this is the second smooth jazz tribute to the sorely missed Luther Vandross and once again producer Rex Rideout has assembled a galaxy of stars to play on a superior collection of some of the big man’s best tunes. No standouts here, ‘cos every cut works its own kind of magic and brings its own especial memories. For the record there are ten tracks divided between six instrumentals and four vocals. Of the instrumentals, Wayman Tisdale’s lead on “The Glow Of Love” really mines the soul groove while Gerald Albright’s sax reveals the poignancy of “If This World Were Mine”. Vocally, Maysa Leak’s rarely sounded better than on her Kevin Whalum-partnered duet version of “There’s Nothing Better Than Love” and Will Downing gives what you’d expect on “Superstar”. I was glad to see “Don’t Want To Be A Fool” included. It’s always been one of my favourite Luther songs and one that’s criminally neglected. Here Jonathan Butler (guitar AND vocal) does it full justice. Interestingly, portions of the royalties are going to a US charity which aims to promote stroke awareness, and to set an example Patti Austin (who here offers an amazing version of “So Amazing”) set about losing a considerable amount of weight to lessen her chances of suffering the same fate as Luther. So, not just great music – a worthwhile cause too. Recommended all round!

Bill Buckley

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