As vocalist and composer the flawless falsetto and keen musical sensibilities of Phil Perry have made him one of the greatest voices in the long and illustrious history of R&B. Once dubbed as "The Pavarotti of Jazz" by Down Beat Magazine, Perry remains one of the most in-demand singers on the scene with a list of enviable credits that include Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Peabo Bryson, the late George Duke, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Dave Koz, Bobby Womack, and Rod Stewart. Now he is back with his 11th solo CD, A Better Man that was released January 20th on the Shanachie label.
This stellar collection of ten choice tracks (including eight of Perry's own co-compositions) is further enhanced by the production expertise of the legendary Chris "Big Dog" Davis and it is Perry and Davis who combine for the album's opening number (and title cut) that with an edgy vibe and mellifluous vocals is vintage Perry and then some.
'You're The Only One' has all the attributes of a classic wedding song in the making while elsewhere 'Beautiful Girls' proves to be a delicately melodic nod to the daughters that he (and Davis) have both raised as fathers.
'Sorry I Let You Go' is another number that can aptly be described as hallmark Phil Perry while in terms of personal favorites the smoky disposition of 'Feelin' You' is extremely hard to beat. It owes much to distinctive work on trumpet by Rick Braun and when another giant of smooth jazz, Kim Waters, joins Perry the result is a sensational take on the Impressions 1964 hit 'I'm So Proud'. Phil maintains the Curtis Mayfield connection for a top-notch rendition of 'Gypsy Woman' but when he reverts to his own original material 'Let It Rain' provides a timely reminder of the understated emotion that he routinely packs into his music.
Talking about emotion, the pulsating groove of 'Stand Up' finds Perry sharing the microphone with Howard Hewett for a song that is sure to be a crowd pleaser and when Phil revisits 'Dreaming's Out Of Season' (which was a hit for him back in 1972 while lead singer with the Montclairs) he rolls back the years in the most delightful of ways.
A Better Man is a wonderful example of classic soul at its best and comes highly recommended.