NATHAN EAST: Reverence (Concord)

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Prodigious bassist, Nathan East is one of soul and jazz’s most prolific artists. We’re told that he’s played on over 2,000 recordings both as sideman (supporting people like Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock) and as a member of “supergroup” Fourplay. Our man’s also released a slew of fine solo albums and this new 12 tracker is right up there with his very best.

We’re also told that the LP’s title, ‘Reverence’ derives from the seriousness and respect that East put into the recording, particularly in paying homage to one of his long time musical heroes, Maurice White, who, of course, passed just 12 months ago.

In respect to White, ‘Reverence’ offers a couple of Earth Wind And Fire covers… ‘Love’s Holiday’ and ‘Serpentine Fire’ and for both East has drafted in Philip Bailey to offer his unique “caressed” vocals. ‘Love’s Holiday’ is just lovely while ‘Serpentine Fire’ is brought to us via a stellar cast. Helping out here are (amongst others) Ralph Johnson, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Greg Phillinganes, and Gerald Albright. Maurice White would be proud of ’em all!

‘Reverence’ features plenty more big name guests. Right now we’re loving ‘Why Not This Sunday’ which has a wonderfully understated vocal from Ruben Studdard. There’s just a hint of EWF about the tune which has “radio friendly” stamped all over it.

Elsewhere Yolanda Adams takes lead on a version of Randy Newman’s ‘Feels Like Home’ while¬† Nikki Yanofsky fronts the swinging ‘The Mood I’m In’. Of the instrumentals our pick is a loose and funky take on Stevie’s ‘Higher Ground’ which proves (of you needed it) East’s talents as he duels with Kirk Whalum’s sax. Nathan’s son, Noah plays keys on a poignant version of ‘Over The Rainbow’ and the whole album ends with a solo bass track… ‘Until We Meet Again’. Knowing Nathan East’s track record we’re sure that that won’t be too long!

(BB) 4/5