Reviews from SoulTracks on Sun Music are the highly rated music releases by artists played on the 24/7 and On-Demand streams.
|Gregory Porter - All Rise
Gregory Porter’s music epitomizes what it means to be identifiable yet distinct. Porter’s powerfully soulful baritone stands as the identifiable constant that connects all of his work – regardless of whether that work consists primarily of originals or covers, studio albums or live. He is, along with Cecile McLorin Salvant, the most talented singer working.
Porter has released a tribute and live album along with four other projects consisting mostly of original music. Each of those records came from a distinct place that reflected Porter’s varied musical interests, as well as his spiritual underpinnings and biography. The next record – All Rise – was set to be released in April until the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the date back to Aug. 28.
|Roy Ayers, Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad - Jazz Is Dead 2
Vibraphonist Roy Ayers got his honorific as the Godfather of Neo-Soul the old fashioned away – he earned it. R&B, hip-hop, neo-soul and jazz artists regularly call on Ayers to play on their albums. The list includes Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Eric Benet, Guru, Rick James, Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest and Najee, just to name a few.
That is likely what Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad had in mind when they teamed with Ayers on the second installment of their Jazz is Dead series. Muhammad, of course, is a member of A Tribe Called Quest and has direct knowledge of Ayers’ fluency in styles outside of jazz.Read more...
|Maceo Parker - Soul Food: Cooking With Maceo
Saxophone is first thing that comes to mind when people say the name Maceo Parker. Or maybe it’s James Brown exclaiming the name “Maceo!” as Parker unloads on one of his signature saxophone solos on tunes such as “Cold Sweat” or “Doing it to Death.” To be sure, Parker has lent a good helping of funk along with jazz improvisation in assisting artists ranging from Brown to Prince, De La Soul, the P-Funk family, Keith Richard; not to mention Parker’s lengthy work as a band leader that began in the 1970s. Read more...
|Billy Ocean - One World
When Billy Ocean became an international superstar in 1984 with hits such as “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” and “Suddenly,” the Trinidad native had already paid his dues for over a decade on the British soul scene, releasing his share of both successes (“Love Really Hurts Without You,” “Nights (Feel Like Getting Down)”) and misses.
On his eleventh studio album, One World, the tenderly soulful vocalist eschews any grand gestures for commercial purposes in favor of simple song structure and heartfelt delivery. Read more...
|Various Artists - Ella 100: Live at the Apollo
I was still listening to vinyl 45s and LPs when I had my first encounter with Ella Fitzgerald, while sitting in front of the television watching football. That’s when one of those ubiquitous commercials came on, where Fitzgerald shattered the crystal wineglass with her voice. Some celebrity sitting in a booth had to figure out if Fitzgerald’s amplified voice or a recording of the legend made on Memorex cassette tape shattered the glass. Of course, the celebrity could not tell, and a baritone voiced announcer would ask, ‘Is it live, or is it Memorex?’
By 1989, Fitzgerald’s distinctive scat mixed with Big Daddy Kane and Kool Moe Dee’s rap, George Benson’s guitar, James Moody’s saxophone, and Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis’ trumpet on my Memorex copy of Quincy Jones’ Back on the Block album that I played in my car. By then, Fitzgerald was shattering expectations rather than glass. Read more...
|Bluey - Tinted Sky
British soul collective Incognito was at the forefront of the acid-jazz movement during the 1980s and early ‘90s. Originally focused on instrumental grooves fusing soul, jazz, and disco, the offshoot of Light of the World found long-deserved commercial success throughout the ‘90s with vocally charged numbers featuring the likes of Jocelyn Brown, Maysa, and Carleen Anderson—to name a few.
Group founder Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick has served as its chief producer, songwriter, and guitarist for the past four decades; and though he is Incognito’s official lead singer, many fans will acquire a more in-depth picture of his vocal approach via his fourth solo CD, Tinted Sky. Foregoing a conscious effort to duplicate the familiar elements of Incognito’s biggest hits, Bluey and longtime collaborator Richard Bull shift the focus to simplicity on the material herein. Sprinkling in tunes centered on his mellow guitar style, Bluey achieves a satisfying balance of chilled grooves and amenable melodies. Tinted Sky aims more to establish a consistent vibe than to tread musical edges. Read more...
|PJ Morton – Gospel According to PJ
PJ Morton is a preacher’s kid, and like many sons and daughters of pastors, Morton had a complex relationship with the church. The fact that Morton, like his equally famous father, Bishop Paul Morton, Sr., is a musician, only added complexity to the relationship. Music, after all, is a ministry within the church, and musicians, singers and songwriters are expected to use their gifts to glorify God rather than take it to the devil’s territory by playing secular music.
The pressure to play gospel music never came from Morton’s parents, but that didn’t mean the pressure from the well-meaning saints wasn’t intense. Pressure, the saying goes, breaks pipes. But it also makes diamonds, and Morton has created gems during his career as a solo artist, as well as a songwriter for secular and gospel artists. However, Morton left no doubts of where he stood as a performer. He made secular music, although his gospel influences and roots coursed through his songs. Just check out “Good Days, Bad Days,” both the studio version that appeared on Emotions and on 2015’s The Live Show Killer. Read more...