It seems a paradox to peg the singular transcendental moment of Patrice Rushen's very contemporary Signature as the one tune where acoustic jazz sensibilities take over. But without the kick starting impact of "L'Esprit De Joie," a perfectly titled free for all featuring Gerald Albright's roaring alto and real ivories instead of keyboards, this would be simply another typical -- albeit well performed -- slickly produced radio ready affair. The first three original tracks blow by mid-tempo and cool, but offer little rhythmically to distinguish one from the other. Based on "L'Esprit..," however, one could almost make a case for abolishing electronics on this project altogether, but Rushen's lively runs on the final few tracks also eclipse the laid back, humdrum qualities of the early parts of the disc. Sort of like bland wine and cheese -- given no further pep by a by the numbers take on Sade's "Sweetest Taboo" -- before a spicy main course. Once she taps into her traditional roots, she seems comfortable applying those deeper chops to more modern grooves. The getting there takes far too long.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran
feat: Kirk Whalum