Walter Beasley

Tonight We Love

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In a year when the late George Howard's only output was a few new tracks on a Best Of compilation, Walter Beasley's effortless takes on the same type of easy grooving soprano sax soul music make a solid substitute. Like Howard, Beasley is longer on passionate playing than innovation, big on mid tempo romance and pretty much content to fit right in the smooth jazz pocket, whether on laid back originals or amiable covers of classic R&B hits of yesteryear ("Let's Stay Together," "My Girl"). The only drawback to this is lost potential. Every so often, Beasley breaks out of the typical limitations of these middle of the road electronic grooves and shows a percussive jazz heart primed to let loose. But just as he builds momentum, he pulls back. The only solid up-funk beat emerges on the popular-to-do, people pleasing "People Make The World Go Round," and Beasley's sax on this tune is relegated to serving his own vocal. In some ways, it's like watching a world class gymnast trying to show his best colors on a city park jungle gym. It's certainly captivating to watch, but the trappings are a bit limiting. It's romantic, sure, but what's wrong with a little more excitement?

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