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Gerald Veasley: Soul Control

Filled with stylistically varied, lean arrangements, bassist Gerald Veasley’s Soul Control (Heads Up HUCD 3038; 69:04) is not only his best effort, but one of the best R&B/soul-based contemporary jazz efforts to come along in quite some time. Veasley starts out smokin’ -a cage-rattling hip-hop beat is the wire frame for Veasley’s funky duet with Grover Washington Jr.’s alto sax on “Carolina” -and goes on to explore blithe, spacious shuffles (“Broad Street” – which features Rick Braun on stuttering flugelhorn), heavy blues grooves (“Earthworm,” which finds Veasley’s bass spitting and popping over a rock march beat), and all of the logical steps in between. Other highlights include Veasley’s sly, arch lead (on his 6 string bass) on “As Blue As You,” which stands funky and jazzy against acoustic piano, and his poignant, personal street tale “Love is the Cure,” a lovely R&B ballad warmly sung by Dianne Reeves. Lesser artists who slap on layers of synthesizer and pre-programmed rhythms merely for effect could take a lesson from Veasley. Even on groove-heavy pieces like “Quiet Storm,” the bassist/composer arranges with space, detail and purpose in mind-and comes up with great results.

Originally Published