DAVID K. MATHEWS — Fantasy Vocal Sessions Vol 2 (review)

DAVID K. MATHEWS — Fantasy Vocal Sessions Vol 2 album cover Album · 2020 · RnB Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
js
David K. Matthews is a keyboardist, who along with spending 20 years with Etta James, has worked with countless artists in the fields of jazz, RnB, pop, rock and blues. The Fantasy Vocal Sessions is his latest project with the current release being his Volume 2. While Volume 1 dealt with traditional jazz, Volume 2 is RnB oriented with many songs also showing a gospel influence. The word fantasy not only alludes to David’s desire to bring together some of his favorite singers and musicians, but also refers to the fact that at least the first two albums of his series were recorded in the famous Fantasy Studios. Unfortunately future installments of this project will have to find another studio because Fantasy has finally been closed.

This is an interesting collection of vocalists gathered here, with a couple of surprises including rockers Alex Ligertwood and Steve Miller. Some of the best performances come from Amikaeyla Gaston, who is given three songs to cover including beautiful versions of the Isley’s “For the Love of You” and Stevie’s “Super Woman”. I especially like the fact that she didn’t change the gender on Wonder’s lyrics. That always sounds so corny when a singer feels compelled to change lyrics to fit who they are. Another great performance comes from Glenn Walters, who transforms the 60s pop classic “Goin Out of My Head” into something much more substantial and soulful. Another top performance is Tony Lindsay’s intense gospel flavored reading of “So Sweetly”.

Joining Matthews in the backing bands are an all-star cast of bay area session musicians, and most tunes give the vocalists a break for a top notch jazz solo on guitar, sax or keyboards. The arrangements are inventive and sometimes pleasingly retro. Is that an Arp String Ensemble I hear on some of these tracks, what a nice 70s vibe that texture can provide. The arrangement on James Brown’s classic “I Feel Good” is an ‘underground’ version, and it recalls the busy syncopated horns of Tower of Power. No big surprise as many of the musicians on here, including David himself, have worked with the mighty Tower. Apparently David has more fantasy sessions on the way, with future installments featuring blues and Latin jazz
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