Victor Fields

Thinking of You

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Every so often, the smooth jazz radio format -- whose audience includes an upscale urban AC audience that came to embrace famed pop figures like Jeffrey Osborne and Ray Parker, Jr. -- opens up to a likeable singer and lets a little soulful new vocal light in. With his impressive fourth disc, he shows he's hip to the genre's penchant for covers, and he does them beautifully, with ample groove and romance on tunes like "Lovely Day," "Walking in Rhythm," "Creepin'" and the perennial crowd pleaser "What's Going On." Producer Chris Camozzi, who by the early 2000s had abandoned his own once burgeoning instrumental career, has been an effective behind the scenes force for Victor Fields; this is their third collaboration. Camozzi's magical acoustic harmonies behind Fields' husky silk lead on the Marvin Gaye classic reminds us that he's a great guitarist as well. Obviously, having smoothie stalwarts like Jeff Lorber, Richard Elliot and Rick Braun is helpful from a marketing standpoint, but each also adds a unique vibe that takes the production of those tracks to an exciting level. But Fields, more than on any other previous disc, shows that, marketing considerations aside, he can more than hold his own in mining the territory of obvious influences like Bobby Caldwell and Jon Lucien. Smooth jazz at its best goes down easy, but brings in plenty of funk, and though Fields' vibe extends beyond strict categorization, he brings both of those qualities to the mix.

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