Ready for Love
Prolific saxophonist Walter Beasley certainly gives his fans plenty new material to digest, as he diligently breaks away from his students at Berklee College of Music to deliver a CD every year or so. Here again, groove-filled uptempo tunes and ballads seamlessly weave together while Beasley’s relentless alto pulses along.
Although primarily adhering to time-tested instrumentals, in recent years Beasley has increasingly shined the spotlight on his vocals. (In fact, he’s so confident of his abilities that he’s released a DVD offering tips on phrasing and delivering personality and style.) Beasley nails the vocal tunes here, most astonishingly with an old-school classic that’s managed to hide in the shadows for more than 30 years. On William DeVaughn’s “Be Thankful for What You’ve Got,” Beasley’s high register never wavers or loses pitch, effortlessly gliding like that of the falsetto of the Stylistics’ Russell Thompkins Jr. And with the original “Miss You,” Beasley lowers his tone in a gorgeous song that somehow manages to rise above its tired lyrics.
Among the instrumentals, the thumping pop of “Ready for Love” and “Why Not You” are hit singles finely crafted by James Lloyd of Pieces of a Dream. More interesting, though, are Beasley’s first reggae foray titled “She Moves Me” and the chillingly tropical “Land of the Sun,” a collaboration with Spanish remix veteran Quim Quer.