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For Her

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Album Review

The title track of veteran saxman Walter Beasley's latest jaunt into funky, groovy, and super-sensuous territory — and his debut on Heads Up International — has a brilliant and amusing anecdote attached. When he started making the album, he had just started seeing a new special someone, so it made sense to call the album For Her (and sing "I would give my life for her" on the graceful, soprano-driven title track) as a tribute. Halfway through the recording process, however, he broke up with "her" — but because this "her" inspired the emotional ups and downs of the rest of the project, he kept the title. First, Beasley really digs her (the bouncy, disco-fied jam "She's All That," produced with sizzle by Chuck Loeb). Then they're getting down to the throbbing "Coolness," and waking up to a gentle "Good Morning." Later, he's wistfully nostalgic (the seductive "Remember When") and needs a bit of "Grace" to get through the heartache before acknowledging, as soulfully as can be, that "Things Change." Aside from wonderful rhythmic diversity, strong as ever emotional playing, and solid production (including several tracks by Pieces of a Dream's James Lloyd), this disc is unique in smooth jazz for actually attempting to tell a story through music — rather than just throwing together a fun hodgepodge of new tracks. Beasley doesn't get the festival dates and ink that some of the younger, supposedly hipper smooth saxmen get, but this disc proves he's still a lead player in the game.

Biography

Born: 24 May 1961 in El Centro, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

An R&B-ish player whose music sometimes crosses over into jazz, Walter Beasley's sound is a perfect paradigm for defining "contemporary" or "smooth" jazz, and he a talented musician. After briefly playing trumpet, Beasley switched to saxophone when he was nine and was soon inspired by Grover Washington, Jr. He attended Berklee College and, after graduating at age 22, became one of the school's teachers. In 1987, Beasley released his first self-titled album and since then has recorded two sets...
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For Her, Walter Beasley
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