When three friends get together to have fun the consequence is quite often a party so it should be no surprise that ‘BWB’ from Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun could well be the soundtrack for the coolest party you might ever have. Although it is the threesomes follow up to ‘Human Nature’ (that paid tribute to the Michael Jackson songbook) and ‘Groovin’ (a covers album that hit the streets in 2002) this is their first gathering together of all original music. Much in the way that Dave Koz’s ‘Summer Horns’ project did, it sets a firm platform for the inevitable round of summer festival dates that are sure to follow.
Like all ‘party’ music it is perhaps best judged in its entirety rather than track by track and certainly the earlier numbers, ‘Bolly Bop’, ‘Triple Dare’, ‘Bust A Move’ and the title cut (which incidentally is also the first song to be offered to radio), merge splendidly into a seamless foot-tapping delight.
Yet, as might be expected from three heavyweights of the genre, ‘BWB’ is not without its light and shade, a fact exemplified by the silky smooth ‘I Want Your Girl’ and again with ‘Lemonade’ that, with its raw soulful edge, is just as interesting.
Elsewhere although the Braun composition, ‘Memphis Steppin’, is perhaps a tad laidback to really get the dance floor jumping it is, for all that, a fabulously mellifluous tune and much the same can be said of the slightly introspective ‘North Star’ that affords ample space for all three of these excellent musicians to really flourish.
‘BWB’ closes with ‘Turn Up’ and its reminder of just what a party record should be all about but, all things considered, after the party is over and the cleaning up has begun the track I will return to is the magically easy grooving ‘Hey Baby’ that has a flavor of romantically inclined old school soul that, for me, will never get old.