You could easily fault Chaka Khan for pursuing old strategies on her latest solo album. You could, that is, if the results weren't so lavishly exuberant.
The gang's all here: producer Arif Mardin, the Brecker Brothers, Hamish Stuart of the Average White Band -- all of whom helped to guide Khan's first solo flight after she left Rufus' platinum roost several years ago. Along with dozens of top-flight session musicians, Mardin and company have been popping up on Khan albums ever since.
This album is a bit different from her previous records. Khan locks hips and hyperventilates with Rick James on the steamy "Slow Dancin' " and her currently charted single, "Got to Be There," displays her creamy contralto range to better advantage than usual. But these tracks are exceptions to Khan's high-energy synthesis of rock, funk, soul and jazz.
Her voice is dazzling at times -- soaring, swooping, dancing over the multi-layered arrangements that Mardin favors. The dance rhythms are fast and inviting. Khan has once again included a tribute to the jazz past: This time it's a flag-waving bebop medley. Hardcore jazz fans won't find it of much interest, but that doesn't diminish the pleasure of hearing a pop singer who values and promotes jazz as energetically as Khan. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM CHAKA KHAN -- Chaka Khan (Warner Brothers 23729-1). THE SHOWS CHAKA KHAN, Monday and Tuesday at 9 at the Wax Museum.