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Andre Ward: Steppin’ Up

On his sophomore album, Steppin’ Up (Orpheus), saxophonist Andre Ward offers a varied collection of smooth-jazz tunes that nicely showcase his warm sound. That sound is well-suited to lyrical ballads like “Utopia” and the lovely “Heaven In My Life (Andre’a),” which he composed for his daughter, but Ward can also deliver edgier fare like the urban number “City Vibe.” Things get lively on R. Kelly’s “Step in the Name of Love,” which features an animated sax performance over a galloping groove, and more laid-back on the aptly titled “Just Chillin’.”

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