Stylish, punchy and inventive, Gerald Veasley's Love Letters (Heads Up HUCD 3052; 44:14) may be the bassist's strongest effort yet. Veasley's strong rhythmic play and unique singing bass melodies shine through on detailed arrangements ranging from the mysterious beat box shuffle groove "Wish You Were Here," to the Asian-tinged, soft-spoken "Hypnotize." Veasley pulls from classic funk influences for the lumbering slowburn piece, "Everblue," and jams with the great Grover Washington, Jr. on "Valdez in the Country," which grooves with the '70s R&B intensity of an Earth, Wind & Fire classic. Perhaps the most telling piece here is "Optimistic"-which plays like an elegant depiction of its title. With a slight Brazilian slink in the percussion, and Veasley's singing six-string skillfully doubling Ron Kerber's alto sax, this piece brings together the creativity, chops and style that populate the bassist's best work.