Remember Who You Are

Norman Connors

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Remember Who You Are Review

by Jason Elias

Norman Connors' first set since 1988's successful Passion, Remember Who You Are has the drummer/composer not only successfully updating his trademark sound but also broadening his production skills. This effort is his first for MoJazz, distributed by Motown. Connors does an equal amount of originals and covers throughout the recording. He reunites with one of his best vocalists, Phyllis Hyman, for the poignant and well-orchestrated title track. "You and I," featuring a great vocal from Angela Bofill, is reminiscent of Connors' classic sound and melodic changes. Not all of the covers work, though. Spencer Harrison hams it up on the always tricky "Lush Life," but he makes up for it on the solid cover of "A Song for You." The biggest surprise here is Connors' take on Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" -- the track features a charismatic, full-bodied lead from Eve Cornelious, who also co-wrote the added lyrics. The production and arrangement stay true to the song's whimsical nature, and an ultrasmooth acoustic piano solo from Patrice Rushen is featured. There is also some good instrumental work on Remember Who You Are. The moody and atmospheric "Only When She Cries" has a keyboard solo from Jacques Burvick and fine tenor sax from Marion Meadows. John Coltrane's classic "Naima" gets the first-class treatment. A few of the tracks in the contemporary jazz/R&B vein, "I Can't Wait Till I See You Again" and "Just Like This" (featuring Denise Stewart), are skilled enough not to be disconcerting. Remember Who You Are shows Connors truly on his game; the album is another one of his fulfilling efforts.

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