Forever, for Always, for Luther
An assemblage of smooth-jazz's biggest stars celebrates the music of singer Luther Vandross on Forever, For Always, For Luther (GRP). Vandross is recovering from a serious stroke he suffered last year, and the mostly instrumental album features some very heartfelt tributes, notably trumpeter Rick Braun's beautiful, lyrical reading of Vandross' recent Grammy-winning hit "Dance With My Father." Singer Lalah Hathaway offers a gentle rendition of "Forever, for Always, for Love," while guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. turns in an ebullient performance on "Never Too Much," and saxophonist Kirk Whalum soars on "Any Love." Other high spots: saxophonist Dave Koz's and keyboardist Brian Culbertson's romantic take on "If Only for One Night" and saxophonist Boney James' quiet eloquence on "Wait for Love." Most of the performances stay fairly close to the originals, and it would have been nice to hear someone really reimagine these well-known songs, but overall, this is a solid tribute to an illustrious artist who, hopefully, will return to making his own music some day.