Album review: "This Heart of Mine"
By Mike Joyce
Friday, Feb. 17, 2012
Valentine's Day may have come and gone, but that won't stop saxophonist Kim Waters from romancing clubgoers in Georgetown this weekend. His new album, "This Heart of Mine," sounds as if it were tailor-made for the occasion - a bouquet of R&B-tinted ballads, sultry smooth jazz instrumentals and syncopated party grooves.
More of the same, you say? Well, yes, the reedman's many recordings - 17 at last count - aren't always easy to tell apart. But "This Heart of Mine" is distinguished by several appealing collaborations and arrangements. Vocal tracks that punctuate albums by smooth jazz instrumentalists often amount to little more than pop contrivances designed to snare radio airplay. That's not the case here, though, thanks to singers Calvin Richardson and Dana Pope.
Cast as an anguished lover, Richardson leaves his soulful mark on "Am I a Fool," while Pope, who is married to Waters, contributes a vibrant lead vocal to a cover of "Empire State of Mind." A comparatively routine version of R. Kelly's "Love Letter" turns up, too, amid original tunes that feature Waters at his most lyrical ("I Love My Girl") and lively ("Running to Love").
The Maryland native is nothing if not versatile. He plays virtually all of the instruments on the album, in addition to writing, arranging and co-producing. What's missing is the chemistry he and his band create onstage. To get that, you'll need a ticket.