Will Downing arrives at this station in time with complete command of his craft, a full grasp of who he is as an artist and uniquely positioned on the R&B road connecting the past to the present. That connection is made with a production prowess as silky smooth as the trademark vocals to which we’ve grown accustomed. Classique, effortlessly lives up to its moniker with a delicious fusion of B3 organs, flutes, vibes and crushed velvet harmonies, seasoned with a dash of Motown and a pinch of Philly International. Its retro flavor is an unforced natural blend of old school savvy and modern technical wizardry served up by Downing and longtime production collaborator, Rex Rideout.
To be clear, there’s no need for studio trickery to fill any vocal voids here. As if Will Downing’s own considerable gifts were not enough, Classique enlists the veteran talents of Phil Perry, who not only brings his 80’s and 90’s solo success to the mix, but his 70’s soul group expertise as well from the Montclairs. 2009 finds Perry in fine form and lending an undeniably authentic pedigree to the finished product. The resulting contribution, is a stirring remake of The Originals’ classic “Baby I’m for Real”, where Perry offers the perfect high flying contrast to Downing’s signature baritone notations. The two form what many a female fan might consider the ultimate Dynamic Duo of romantic crooners, each with his own unique sound.
Ultimately, it’s Will Downing himself that makes Classique…classic. Besides the union with Perry, this volume is noticeably absent of the trendy parade-of-all-stars list of guest performers so common on many of today’s new releases. Intended or not, there’s no mistaking the fact that this is a Will Downing showcase from start to finish…beginning to end. It’s a quiet but emphatic statement on the kind of strength and confidence this Brooklyn native has amassed in an amazingly durable two decade long career that’s been recognized for excellence by the NARAS and the NAACP Image Awards.
Official Website: http://yoshis.com/sanfrancisco/jazzclub/artist/show/1090
Added by Yoshis on January 12, 2010