As soon as Randy Crawford’s vocals grace “Everyday I Have the Blues,” you realize that they’ve maintained their magic, only now they are seasoned with a sexy, come-hither huskiness. Crawford, of course, is still remembered fondly worldwide for her distinctive singing 30 years ago on the Crusaders’ iconic “Street Life.” She’s now in a multi-year gig with Crusaders keyboardist Joe Sample, and No Regrets is their follow-up to their Grammy-nominated Feeling Good from 2006. Drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Christian McBride and producer Tommy LiPuma return for a project that is markedly more bluesy and soulful than Feeling Good.
The trick is picking suitable songs, of course, and Crawford and Sample nail it with a varied selection of familiar and not-so-well-known numbers. The familiar include the bopping “Respect Yourself” by the Staple Singers and Sarah McLachlan’s poignant “Angel.” Kudos as well for unearthing such chestnuts as Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets,” the title track, on which Crawford displays her vocal depth with a Broadway-like showing, as well as Randy Newman’s torchy “Just One Smile.”
Similar to Feeling Good, Sample holds it all together with his acoustic keys, stepping out for tasteful solos. Here’s music for grown-ups, and music that defines what most people these days hear as vocal jazz.