Frank McComb: Love Stories

Vocalist-pianist Frank McComb lets his gospel roots show in an uplifting, intelligent solo debut, Love Stories (Columbia CSK 42753; 72:05). McComb’s soaring tenor can sound eerily like Stevie Wonder-conveying sweet optimism and faith without a false note on “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” and “The Wedding Song,” and taking on an angular funk character for the soulful “(They’re Gonna Be) Looking at You.” While his captivating vocals go a long way to redeem even weaker Stories, like the dull-grooved “Gotta Find a Way,” his thoughtful piano work proves equally accomplished and evocative. A bittersweet, introspective read of Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time” and glorious Earth, Wind & Fire-like grooves of the instrumental “Return to Lake Erie” show that McComb’s talents extend well beyond the voice. Credit Branford Marsalis with sharp production choices to highlight McComb’s many gifts.