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Urban Knights: Urban Knights V

Urban Knights V (Narada), which, as its title suggests, is the fifth album by the Ramsey Lewis-led ensemble Urban Knights, showcases burgeoning Chicago talent as well as well-established members of the jazz community. Kenny Garrett’s saxophone rides a funky groove on “On the Up” and sings with tender eloquence on “Quiet Heart.” Lewis delivers deft piano improvisation on the group’s festive cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” and unleashes some potent soul-jazz on the uplifting “Church.” Guitarist and longtime Lewis collaborator Henry Johnson turns in some dexterous Wes Montgomery-inspired lines on the sly, sinuous “King,” while newcomer saxophonist Steve Zoloto’s melody is set over a galloping groove on a high-spirited reading of the classic “I Can See Clearly Now,” and newcomer singer Michelle Williams provides sweet vocals on “Will You Still Love Me?” The album closes with the dramatic, lovely “Honor Him/Now We Are Free,” a montage inspired by music from the soundtrack of the film Gladiator.

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