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Marion Meadows – Soul City

Mar. 1, 2018

Sometimes, when listening to a superior artist with superior skills in playing, writing, and in firm acuity, I can get so lost in the magic of it all that I become at a loss for words to describe the level of awe the artist inspires. There are only a few in my world, and veteran saxman Marion Meadows has been one for decades. Is that what it takes to be such a consummate master – years at this? Maybe, but this cat started out in the strong lane back in 1992. Here with his latest and 14th offering Soul City, he again simply dazzles, mesmerizes, and commands the respect only one who lives this stuff can garner.

Never one to be selfish with sharing the joy and experience of cutting a Marion Meadows release, the saxman brings along such top-notch contributors here as master producer/keyboardist/composer (who, by the way, serves as co-writer on many tracks here) Chris “Big Dog” Davis, iconic vocalist Peabo Bryson, stellar guitarists Norman Brown, Peter White, and Rohn Lawrence, pianist Roberto Vazquez, the international-recognized and loved nightingale Maysa, composer/producer/keyboardist (and also a co-writer of tracks on this release) Rahni Song, lady-magnet crooner Will Downing, and trumpeter Joey Somerville, just to name a handful. This collection of luminaries has made this album shine with the brilliance of the sun at close range.

“Quality” is spelled out in all caps on this project from the poppin’ lead and title track forward. There are simply far too many outstanding tracks here to single out any one as my fave – they are all my faves. Ok, maybe I do have a strong partiality to track two’s “Dreamin’” featuring Maysa with its swaying Latin buoyancy and exoticism (I can’t even imagine Maysa singing such a tune without her own exotic touch); the hot ‘n’ bouncy “Merry Go Round” featuring the strong and sassy vocals of Latresh Bush; the brilliant cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” done powerful justice by Bryson; and the hypnotic last track “Only” (from which I had to tear myself away before playing it 10 times in succession), but I still maintain that there’s not a bad track in the bunch.

This, simply put, is what has defined Meadows from Day One: Precise Excellence With Soul. The man maintains that Midas touch here. Needless to say, this is a must-have beauty. – Ronald Jackson