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Betcha By Golly Wow - The Songs of Thom Bell (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

Given songwriter and producer Thom Bell's legendary reputation, it's difficult to believe that this is the first contemporary jazz record to pay tribute to his work. Co-produced by Bob Baldwin, Will Downing, and former Bell sideman Preston Glass, Betcha by Golly Wow is a second chapter for Baldwin and Downing; the first was Never Can Say Goodbye: A Tribute to Michael Jackson in 2009. As has been typical of his own recordings for the past two decades, Baldwin plays multiple instruments, from drums and bass to keyboards. The three producers have enlisted a star-studded cast to create a seamless, warm, and elegant selection of Bell tunes. "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," features Russ Freeman's guitar holding court on the melody. Ragan Whiteside and Paul Brown — on flutes and guitars respectively — funk things up a bit on "The Rubberband Man," with Baldwin's piano slipping the lyric line in between in the stepping groove. Vivian Green's vocals grace a fine reading of "La-La Means I Love You." Gerald Albright, Downing, and Baldwin reprise their cover of "Break Up to Make Up" from 1993. Downing's voice may be a bit lower 20 years later, but it's lost none of its expressiveness. A sweet, uptempo reading of "I'll Be Around" features the soprano saxophone of Marion Meadows, as does the closer "People Make the World Go Round," played as an elegant groover. The latter features some lovely piano work by Baldwin.The only cut that doesn't work here is "Bell & Creed," an overly sentimental tribute to the songwriter and producer Linda Creed, Bell's production partner at Philly International. That small hiccup aside, this is a well-arranged, nicely selected collection of some of Bell's finest tunes, performed by some of contemporary jazz's best.

Biography

Born: 09 December 1960 in Mount Vernon, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pianist, composer, arranger, and producer Bob Baldwin is an adept performer known for his many contemporary jazz albums. Born in 1960 in Mount Vernon, New York, Baldwin was first introduced to the piano around age four by his father, bassist and pianist Robert Baldwin, Sr. By his teens, Baldwin was listening heavily to jazz and R&B. After high school he attended Geneva College, where he earned a business degree, and later even worked as an accountant. However, all the while, he continued developing...
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Betcha By Golly Wow - The Songs of Thom Bell (Deluxe Edition), Bob Baldwin
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