Nelson Rangell

Soul to Souls

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Pop-jazz reedsman Nelson Rangell returns with the amiable Soul to Souls, an album evenly split between familiar covers and originals. The standards, including "A Night in Tunisia," Earl Klugh's "Vonetta," and Joe Sample's "Free as the Wind," are mostly pleasant but uninspired; the exception is a lovely recasting of Stevie Wonder's "Send One Your Love" (from his underrated fusion experiment Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants) that features some of Rangell's most haunting and inspired flute playing. The originals blend R&B and pop influences into Rangell's mainstream, smooth aesthetic; as always, his playing is impeccable and the production is pristine, but there's little sense of new artistic ground being broken on Soul to Souls. At its best, the album is a recapitulation of Rangell's talents; at it's worst, it's treading water.

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