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Billy Shields: Crystal Blue

Right on, Billy Shields. When the pianist combed over the Sade canon for a suitable tune, he skipped “Sweetest Taboo” and “Smooth Operator” for the lesser-known but equally good “Cherry Pie.” Shannon Battle’s little-girl vocals take some time to get used to-she’s no husky Sade-but she does all right on the tune and on Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately.”

This CD’s got a goofy feel, expressed on another cover, the Tommy James and the Shondells ’60s hit “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” and with “Stand Up in Love.” Shields’ slap-happy piano lines are lounge-like, but lounge-jazz has many fans. Elsewhere, Shields call on bassist Larry Antonio, saxophonist Craig Thomas and guitarist Phil Gates for alternately funky, bluesy and classic 1970s-like contemporary jazz. It doesn’t all mesh, but there’s plenty here to get your geeky fun groove on.

Originally Published