RONNIE McNEIR: Ronnie Mac and Company (Label: Jupiter Island)

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RONNIE McNEIR: Ronnie Mac and Company

UK soul hero Ronnie McNeir’s now a well-established member of the Four Tops but the top Top Duke Fakir is flexible enough to allow Ron to pursue a solo career too and this new album should delight the big Mac’s countless fans. They’ll know what to expect – and they get it. So, no big blockbusters; rather, the set’s a gentle 15 tracker of sophisticated, laid back, mature soul with more than a hint of cool jazz. Hear the flavour to best effect on the loose ‘Look At The People’. The vocal may remind you of Al Jarreau, while the multi-note piano-chords are homage to one of Ron’s big influences, jazz man Les McCann. Here that Les McCann influence even more on the very loose and leggy ‘Don’t Need Nobody’. The title of the set indicates that Ronnie’s here working with others and of ‘The Company’, there’s no bigger name than sax star Kirk Whalum. Kirk works his proverbial socks off on ‘I’m In the Mood’. Kathy Lamar is another guest; She adds a sultry, spoken intro to ‘Summertime Medley’ and duets with Mr. M on ‘Ain’t It Good To Know That You’ve Got A Friend’. The other big name is fellow Four Top, Theo Peoples who helps out on the gospel-esque ‘I Really Need Your Help Father’. Fans of Ronnie will recognize the re-working of ‘Down In The Neighbourhood’ and if you know anything about Ron’s career you will understand why the LP closes with a personal tribute to his old mentor, Obie Benson, adding to the album’s atmospherics.
(BB) 4/5