April 2009

Norman Connors
Star Power

More than 30 years after “You Are My Starship” crowned Norman Connors a new quiet storm hero, Connors is now an old-school hero with an up-to-date project. Who’d have guessed that he’d include an updated version of his big hit? How about tight, New Jack-style R&B songs with fresh-on-the-scene vocalists? Instrumental songs with entrenched smooth-jazz heroes like Norman Brown, Bobby Lyle, Marion Meadows and Ray Parker Jr.? Predictable and time-worn cover songs?

Yep, it’s all here. What, you were expecting 14 all-new songs by Norman Connors to get green-lighted in today’s slumping music market? Of course, Star Power is tightly targeted to the urban adult-contemporary and smooth-jazz lot, and with that in our sights let’s surprisingly call this a respectable entry in those genres, if it’s not too overly ambitious. Connors, a drummer and producer, calls on old-schooler Christopher Williams for “Used to Be,” the best vocal tune of the bunch. Other old-schoolers like Howard Hewitt and Peabo Bryson (who luckily gets “Starship”) have less successful results. New vocalist Antoinette is a pleasure, but wasting her on “Walk on By” and “The Sweetest Taboo”?

The instrumental tracks are serviceable, if predictable, entries into the smooth-jazz canon. The best is the title track, “Star Power,” written by Kirk Wilson with some jazzy piano runs by the same.

Originally published in April 2009

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