There was a strong jazz vibe running through some of Philip Bailey's sides with Earth, Wind & Fire. On Soul on Jazz, his second release for Heads Up International, co-producer Bailey remakes several jazz standards, some with new lyrics by his son, Sir Bailey. The foray is most successful on Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear," a percussive take on Gene McDaniels' "Compared to What," and Joe Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy." R&B and jazz stylishly intersect on the smooth airy ballad "Unrestrained." Bailey redoes the EWF classic "Keep Your Head to the Sky," giving it a mellow sheen that's close to one of his past cuts, "Children of the Ghetto." On that and his dusky cover of Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" and the loopy "Bop-Skip-Doodle," Bailey flexes his legendary falsetto. More jazz-oriented than Dreams, Soul on Jazz benefits from the sharing of production chores with Myron McKinley, Bob Belden, and Scott Kinsey. The album is definitely on track.
AllMusic Review by Ed Hogan