Life Changes

Doc Powell

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Life Changes Review

by Alex Henderson

Doc Powell has a way of hiring a lot of talented musicians to play on his albums and not giving them enough room to stretch out. On Life Changes, the players include Patrice Rushen (electric and acoustic piano), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Kirk Whalum (tenor sax), and Billy Preston (organ, acoustic piano). With such talent on board, Powell could have easily delivered a killer soul-jazz album, but regrettably, the George Benson-influenced guitarist plays it safe and makes sure that improvisation is kept to a bare minimum. NAC/smooth jazz programmers don't like a lot of blowing, and Powell obviously kept that in mind when he produced and arranged Life Changes. Most of the time, this formulaic, by-the-book urban/pop/jazz date sounds like it was tailor-made for NAC radio. Nonetheless, Life Changes has its moments. The funky "I Know That's Right" is infectious, if overproduced, and singer Ollie Woodson (formerly of the Temptations) has pleasant spots on "Tell Her Love Has Felt the Need" (originally recorded by the late Eddie Kendricks) and "For the Soul in You." Neither of these tunes have anything to do with jazz, although they're decent R&B/pop offerings along the lines of Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson. Life Changes isn't a total disaster, but Powell is capable of a lot more -- especially when musicians like Brecker and Rushen are around.

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