Steve Blackwood


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When an actor records a jazz album, it's only natural to approach it with some skepticism. Fans of the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives know Steve Blackwood for playing the role of Bart, an assistant to the arch-villain Stefano DiMera (played by Joseph Mascolo). While soaps have, on occasion, tackled important social issues -- the abortion storyline on All My Children in the early 1970s was quite bold and courageous for its time -- Days has specialized in campy, over-the-top entertainment (since the early 1980s, anyway). And Blackwood proved to be an asset because he played his role so humorously. But can he sing? Mood Swings demonstrates that Blackwood is, in fact, a talented, expressive jazz vocalist whose influences include Mel Tormé and Tony Bennett, among others. Blackwood brings an impressive range and a lot of charisma to this CD, which is likable and decent but quite conventional. Most of the time, Blackwood picks war-horses that have been done to death (including "Angel Eyes" and "It's All Right With Me") and doesn't do anything different or out of the ordinary with them. Mood Swings also contains a few memorable Blackwood originals ("Lauren" and "In the Heat of the Night"), but, for the most part, he plays it safe. There is no law stating that he has to reinvent the wheel or be a major innovator, but it wouldn't hurt him to surprise us more often and be more adventurous in his choice of material -- everyone from Stephen Sondheim to Sting and the Beatles has something to offer him if he'll let them. All that said, one hears a great deal of potential on Mood Swings. If he takes more chances, Blackwood is quite capable of providing an album that is excellent instead of merely decent.

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