City Sketches, 2020
Bob Baldwin is a man who wears many hats, from author to musician to composer, and here he brings a large group of musicians to help flesh out his 31st effort, Henna.
Baldwin starts the listen with the cleverly titled “I Heard You Twice (The First Time)”, where jazz and soulful sounds come from Baldwin’s innovative keys and quasi-vocals, while Tony Lewis anchors the tune behind the drum kit, and “In The Print” follows with bright piano from Baldwin as Dave Anderson’s strong bass work adds much to the formula.
With over 20 musicians contributing to the 13 tracks, this is a varied journey, where Lori Williams brings her graceful pipes to the breezy piano melodies of “No Longer Lost”, while “Long Weekend (See You On Tuesday)”, recruits flute acrobatics from Ragan Whiteside on the soothing album highlight. The most brass friendly tune, “Club Life”, then hosts a pair of trumpets and saxophones into the danceable, festive atmosphere.
Near the end, “Fly Breeze” glides with a glorious execution, where strong dynamics between flute, trump, saxophone, drums, bass and flutes emit incredible precision, and the Smooth Radio Version of “Club Life” exits the listen with just as much energy and timelessness as the earlier version, as well as plenty of funk.
An accomplished record that’s overflowing with grooves, Baldwin and company deliver plenty of solos where R&B, funk, soul and jazz are all packaged flawlessly.