Pamela Williams

Elixir

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While her more publicized blonde counterparts Candy Dulfer and Mindi Abair have probably gotten more thunder from the smooth jazz world and beyond, the Philly bred saxophonist has slowly emerged as a champion of a silky yet grooving, modern yet retro style best dubbed "smooth urban jazz." While Pamela Williams has been a hit from the get-go -- her 1996 recording debut Saxtress earned the first of numerous accolades from the R&B world -- there's no question her last two Shanachie discs have shown her at her inviting, infectious best. She made a brilliant choice on Elixir to work with keyboardist and fellow saxman David Mann, whose texturing and irresistible Philly soul ambience inspires Williams to work wonders with the punchy first single "Positive Vibe," the sexy and swaying opening track "Forbidden Fruit," and the romantic and inspirational "A Toast to Eternity." Williams herself emerges as a solid writer/producer as well, crafting, among others, the sensual and laid-back title track, the buoyant, old-school slow funk jam "In the Cut," and the passionate but low-key ballad "Rejuvination." She also pays homage to Al Jarreau with a simmering, slightly brooding cover of "Give Me What You Got." Williams has long claimed Grover Washington, Jr. as her main inspiration, and his cool balance of edgy funk and rich seduction has come to define Williams' emergence as a smooth jazz heavy hitter. He was proud of her when he was alive and he's no doubt beaming wherever he is now.

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