This 2004 release finds three ex-members of Earth, Wind & Fire -- Larry Dunn on keyboards, Sheldon Reynolds on lead vocals and guitar, and Morris Pleasure on bass, keyboards, and trumpet -- paying tribute to their former band with generally likable, if uneven, results. Among R&B connoisseurs, it goes without saying that EWF were one of the most visionary bands of the '70s. That's the Way of the World, Gratitude, Open Our Eyes, and Spirit went down in history as soul/funk classics -- and although many EWF fans agree that they jumped the shark around 1982, some of their post-1982 albums have been worthwhile even though they fall short of the magnificence of their best '70s output. What Dunn, Reynolds, and Pleasure come up with on this 71-minute CD feels a lot like so much post-1982 EWF; it isn't like hearing EWF during their '70s heyday, but it isn't bad either. Instead of trying to provide carbon copies of the original versions of EWF's '70s and early-'80s recordings, Devoted Spirits are closer to the downsized, more keyboards-minded EWF of the late '80s, '90s, and early 2000s. Hip-hop is an influence, and a certain jazziness finds its way to arrangements of hits like "Serpentine Fire," "Can't Hide Love," "Devotion," and "September." Not that EWF isn't jazz-influenced; Maurice White once played drums in the Ramsey Lewis Trio, for God's sake. But the jazz influence is a bit stronger here than it is on most of EWF's albums. This disc has its weak moments; Devoted Spirits' boring smooth jazz version of "After the Love Is Gone" isn't much better than Kenny G's mind-numbing elevator music. But while no one will mistake A Tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire for Spirit or Open Our Eyes, it's a generally decent effort that isn't without its pleasures.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson