15 OCT 09 JONATHAN WIDRAN
Smack dab in the middle of Regina Belle's thriving careers as a pop/soul artist in the late-'80s and '90s -- which included "A Whole New World," her Grammy-winning Aladdin duet with Peabo Bryson -- and her current run as a gospel recording artist, the versatile songstress explored her passion for jazz on her highly personal second Peak Records album Lazy Afternoon in 2004.
Inspired by her vocal heroes Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, she brought the jazzy elements of her live shows into the studio, where they blossomed under the guidance of legendary jazz/funk producer George Duke. The critically acclaimed set, which reached the Top Ten on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart, offers a mix of moody torch songs, swinging standards and R&B classics (topped by her gospel flavored original "There's A Love"), that rolls like a private, up close and personal performance. It captures her soulful sensuality, and, in key spots, a sense of playfulness.
On the Jobim bossa nova "Corcovado," she adds seductive Portuguese whispers to the English lyrics while a spontaneous moment with the Perry Sisters evolves into a romp through the old school soul hits "The Love I Lost" and "For The Love Of You." Belle chose the Broadway and standards material (including the title track and "If I Ruled The World") because of its association with Bennett. Aside from Duke, props are in order for Belle's R&B/jazz driven ensemble, including bassists Christian McBride and Alex Al, guitarists Ray Fuller and Dean Parks and saxophonist Everette Harp.
If I Ruled The World
Regina Belle, from Lazy Afternoon
My Heart Stood Still
Tony Bennett, from The Complete Improv ...
Someone Who Needs Me
Regina Belle, from This Is Regina
in this playlist.