This was Bey’s first LP under his own name, and it quickly became popular as an example of the new jazz-fusion vocal style. Bey influenced a number of jazz vocalists at the time and beyond, the most prominent perhaps being Gregory Porter, currently active today.
His soul-style singing and fusion-type backing musicians were far removed from those of traditional jazz singers such as Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy Rushing, Mark Murphy and Chet Baker and of blues shouters like Joe Turner, but his voice did key in with the new jazz sounds of the day. Over the years he collaborated with Max Roach, Horace Silver and Duke Pearson, all musicians in the bop tradition so he must have been adaptable.
On this release, his robust baritone voice sings in soulful mood on several new compositions, the best – such as Judgment, Celestial Blues and Tune Up – being his own charts. Celestial Blues is a hard-rocking piece with blues flavours, albeit it in a soulful jazz-rock style. On I Know This Love Can’t be Wrong and Hibiscus he smooths down the edges of his singing style to fashion soul-style ballads. Tune Up rocks away effectively and he is in romantic, lyrical mode on Rosemary Blue. He is quite winsome on This Love Can’t Be Wrong and he ends his recital quietly and reflectively with a gentle vocal on The Power Of My Mind.
Bey is well supported here by a typical jazz-fusion unit where the most effective sounds come from Wilbur Bascomb’s prominent bass guitar and the various keyboard interjections by Bill Fischer. Overall, it is a lightweight programme in jazz terms but well performed by all concerned.
Jamie Cullum spoke highly of Bey and his ability to create an atmosphere, saying: “As soon as he opens his mouth you are transported to another place.” True enough – although listeners should decide whether or not Bey’s place is one they want to go to.
Celestial Blues; Experience; Judgment; I Know This Love Can’t Be Wrong; Hibiscus; You Should Have Seen The Way; Tune Up; Rosemary Blue; Being Uptight; A Place Where Love Is; Trust Us To Find The Way; The Power Of My Mind (41.15)
Bey (v); Bill Fischer (kyb, pc); George Davis, Richard Resnicoff (elg); Wilbur Bascomb (elb); Selwart Clark (vn); Buddy Williams, Jimmy Young, Ira “Buddy “Williams (d). NYC, July & September 1973.
Atlantic SD 1654, vinyl, from speakerscornerrecords.com