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Jimmy Sommers: Lovelife

Saxophonist Jimmy Sommers’ third album, Lovelife (Higher Octave), is an energetic, R&B-flavored offering that takes some varied stylistic turns. On the title track, Sommers engages in some nice interplay with singer Macy Gray, whose performance includes both appealingly off-kilter raps and melodic singing. Sommers’ spirited cover of Kool & the Gang’s “Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)” features a retro-funk vibe, while “Ride, Ride, Ride”‘s string punctuation, which soars over a churning funk groove, provides a ’70s-disco feel. Sommers heads to the dance club for “Havana Nights,” which combines Latin flavors with house grooves. Sommers and trumpeter Chris Botti harmonize on the gently swinging “Why Must I,” and Sommers closes the album with the sweet lullaby “He Loves Somebody.” The album does misstep, however, with the opening track, “What Am I Gonna Do,” which features vocals by R&B singer Rahsaan Patterson; it’s a nice song and Patterson gives a strong performance, but Sommers’ sax gets buried under the too-busy vocal arrangement.

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