Individually, trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and guitarist Norman Brown enjoy healthy and fruitful solo careers but from time to time they come together as BWB … and for this, their new collective project, they’ve chosen to record a tribute to Michael Jackson.
The trio have chosen eleven songs from Jacko’s back catalogue – some better known than others and some dating back to those wonderful days when he worked with his brothers. One of those is the old Smokey Robinson tune, ‘Who’s Lovin You’ (now becoming something of Motown “standard”) and BWB give it a tremendous bluesy make over courtesy of Whalum’s down-home, southern style sax grooves. That other great Motown ballad, ‘I’ll Be There’, receives a smoother treatment with Braun’s sweet horn taking the main melody line. Stuff like ‘Beat It’, ‘Bille Jean’, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, ‘Man In The Mirror’ and ‘I Can’t Help It’ take a more straightforward course though.
The album’s only vocal is the haunting ‘Human Nature’. Vocalist for this is a lady called Sheléa who keeps close to the original template though the general pace is a touch slower than Jackson’s version. Brown’s guitar is outstanding here.
The three other featured tunes are ‘Another Part Of Me’, ‘She’s Out of My Life’, ‘Shake your Body’… classic smooth jazz all.