Legendary falsetto-voiced Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist Philip Bailey invites quite a guest list of smooth jazz stars to this party, which marks a strong adult contemporary turn from his solo gospel recordings. Although he never fails to keep his vocal textures front and center, each solid sax solo here is by another great -- Everette Harp, Gerald Albright, Grover Washington, Jr., and Kirk Whalum -- and Peter White and George Duke spruce up many a harmony line. Randy Brecker even shows up, spinning his flugelhorn around the exotic, tropical Latin percussion textures on a bass-driven spin on "Moondance." When you're dealing with this kind of voice, both brilliant and so familiar from years in the urban world, obviously the recording's success rises and falls based on the material. And while Bailey's mostly going the passionate ballad route -- he also covers Bread's "Make It With You" and Pat Metheny's dreamy "Something to Remind You" -- his eagerness, cleverness, and sincerity in delivery help listeners forget that there's not much tempo change going on here. Eric Huber's vocal production, often contrasting Bailey's high notes with a lower vocal line before easing them together, is also sharp. While there's not much funk, the two glorious changes of pace are Bailey's twist into Bobby Caldwell territory on the quartet-flavored "Masquerade Is Over" and "Are We Doing Better Now," which sounds like classic Earth, Wind & Fire meeting a spacy, retro-soul-minded George Duke. A little more groove next time might be cool, but Bailey's still got enough of the old fire burning.
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