Nicolas Bearde: "Invitation" (Right Groove) 2016
Rating: **** (musical performance & sonic quality)
Produced & Arranged by Nat Adderley, Jr.
Co-Producers: Bud Spangler (track 7) and Nicolas Bearde & Peter Horvath (track 8)
Executive Producer: Nicolas Bearde for Right Groove Records
Recording Engineers: Michael Brorby, John Lee, Willie Samuels & Jeremy Goody
Mixed by Dab Feiszli, except track 9 by Stanley Wallace
Mastered by Rainer Gembalczyk
Cover Photo: Kola Shobi
Tray Photo: Joey Brite
Artwork & Design: Sienna Digital
Special Guest: Vincent Herring (alto sax)
Featuring: Nat Adderley, Jr., John R. Burr & Peter Horvath (piano), Kenny Davis, Belden Bullock, John Wiitala & Gary Brown (bass), Rocky Bryant, Vincent Ector, Akira Tana & Leon Joyce Jr. (drums), Peter Michael Escovedo (percussion) and Anton Schwartz (tenor sax)
An excellent singer in the tradition of Billy Eckstine and Johnny Hartman, Nicolas Bearde (also a renowned actor) is releasing his fifth solo album, "Invitation." The highlights are the soulful renditions of Buddy Johnson's "Save Your Love For Me," Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" (with lyrics by Herbie's late sister, Jean Hancock) and Billy Eckstine's "I Want To Talk About You."
Bearde applies his rich baritone/second tenor pipes with exquisite warmth to other nice songs, like the timeless title track "Invitation" (by Bronislaw Kaper & Paul Francis Webster) and Billy Strayhorn's masterpiece "Lush Life." However, despite the fact that the repertoire is impeccable, sometimes some choices are too predictable; who wants to listen to another take on "Nature Boy?"
Most of the album is produced & arranged by Nat Adderley, Jr., son of Cannonball's late corner-playing brother, Nat, who also developed a brilliant career as a leader, having recorded a couple of wondrous albums for A&M/CTI and other labels. Although famous for his long time work as musical director for R&B master Luther Vandross, Nat Adderley, Jr. entered my musical world when he was still appearing on albums by his father (like the amazing "Soul of the Bible") and his uncle, having impressed me a lot when composing the title tune for Cannon's final album, "Lovers..." (criminally never reissued on CD, not even in Japan.)
"Invitation" is a very pleasant effort, but I would love to listen to Nicolas and Nat pairing together in a more adventurous session, with a more challenging program.