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Joe Sample/Lalah Hathaway: The Song Lives On

An uncommonly reflective and touching love note of an album, The Song Lives On (GRP GRP3P-90138; 56:42) pairs legendary pianist Joe Sample with a perfect vocal counterpart in Lalah Hathaway (whose duet contributions earn a “featured” credit here). Sample is at his wandering, light-touch best on the musing instrumental “Living in Blue” and the jumping, brightly dancing “Bitter Sweet,” but the vocal selections highlight his emotive play even further. Hathaway’s smoky-toned alto proves the perfect counterpoint for Sample on an atmospheric, offbeat take on “Fever,” and a bittersweet complement to his restless, high-range piano runs on “One Day I’ll Fly Away.” A funky arrangement of “Street Life” (the Sample/Will Jennings chestnut) gives Hathaway room to work with a husky growl, and a minimalist arrangement of “For All We Know” gives her a spotlight-offering the right mix of rapture and regret, augmented by Sample’s sensitive play.

Throughout, Sample and Hathaway bring out the best in one another, expanding their range into previously unseen emotional colors. This unique coupling makes the entire album resonate with the joy of finding a true soulmate.

Originally Published