Various Artists: Marvin, Teddy, and Luther: A Smooth Urban Jazz Love Letter

Three of music’s premier romantic singers, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pender-grass and Luther Vandross, are saluted on the tribute album Marvin, Teddy and Luther: A Smooth Urban Jazz Love Letter (Shanachie). The album consists of smooth-jazz versions of several of the legends’ biggest hits, but the tracks are given essentially the same treatment-sax and/or guitar articulating the melody, with vocals on the chorus hook-and every song ends up sounding virtually the same. There are some highlights on the album, namely saxophonist David Mann’s lovely performance on Vandross’ “So Amazing” and Kim Waters’ lyrical turn on Pendergrass’ “Is It Still Good to Ya?” but the lack of variety in the arrangements makes it difficult to distinguish one song from another. Marvin, Teddy and Luther succeeds as romantic background music, but the three legends being celebrated-and the artists doing the celebrating-certainly deserve more.