Dexter Wansel

Voyager

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After employing a lot of sci-fi/space travel imagery on his first album, Life on Mars, Dexter Wansel got away from the outer space theme on his second album, What the World Is Coming To. But as it turned out, that was only temporary -- the cover of Wansel's third album, Voyager, finds him dressed like an astronaut. In the late '70s, Wansel wasn't known for recording one-dimensional albums -- and he lives up to his reputation for diversity on this decent 1978 outing, which ranges from funk ("All Night Long," "I Just Want to Love You") and smooth Philadelphia soul ("I'm in Love") to instrumental pop-jazz ("Time Is the Teacher") and fusion ("Voyager"). Most of the instrumentals that Wansel provided in the late '70s were more pop-jazz/NAC than fusion, but Voyager's title track is the sort of hard, aggressive fusion that one would have expected from Chick Corea's Return to Forever or John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra in the 1970s. And that's ironic because one of the players who is featured on that track is Philly saxman George Howard, who went on to become a NAC/smooth jazz favorite in the 1980s but had yet to provide any albums of his own back in 1978. Voyager falls short of mind blowing, but it's a likable record that deserves credit for its unpredictable nature.

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