Veteran musician Bob Baldwin has been doing it really big since 1988, and that is just as a composer and producer. He has written for Grover Washington, Jr., Paul Brown, Howard Hewett, Tiffany Bynoe, Will Downing and Freddie Jackson, just to name a few.
Now THAT is a strong list!
As an artist, Baldwin has released more than 20 albums, and he has eight top-10 Billboard Jazz albums since 2000.
By the way, Baldwin has also been a player in the radio industry since 1981.
Talk about being immersed in the business! You will not find a more connected person than Bob Baldwin.
His vast experience allows him to be creative with his Smooth Jazz releases. In the past, Baldwin has recorded several tribute albums, paying homage to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and the music of Thom Bell.
Baldwin is digging in the crates once again, as this time he pays tribute to the iconic band, The Beatles.
Paying Tribute to the Beatles
Bob Baldwin Presents Abbey Road and The Beatles is an album where Baldwin re-imagines songs from the Beatles in the key of Smooth Jazz. He enlisted some of his friends to help him out on the project. Euge Groove, Lori Williams, Ragan Whiteside, and vocalist CeCe Peniston add a little more flavor to the project.
I have always said that I like songs from the Beatles…..As long as someone ELSE is performing them!
There are 12 tracks here. Some you are probably already familiar with, and some that you will get to know for the first time. Let’s go through each track and see what Baldwin has to offer.
Review – “Bob Baldwin Presents Abbey Road and The Beatles”
The set starts off with perhaps one of the band’s most famous tracks, Come Together. You hear that famous bassline at the start, and you just feel that this rendition will be one of the best tracks on the album. Baldwin really does his thing on the keys, and the hook is courtesy of the vocoder. That is a really nice touch. The track comes in at six minutes, so it is a nice, long groove to get you going.
Up next is (Mellow) Yellow Submarine. As far as I am concerned, the only thing this version and the original have in common is the basic melody. Baldwin takes that melody and essentially creates a brand new song. This sounds like a great jam session that was “caught on wax”. There is some excellent drum work here by Tony Lewis. If you want to hear some stellar piano riffs, this will be your goto track.
And I Love Her is next, and even without vocals, you can tell that this is a song about everlasting love. At its core, this is a simple song, but sometimes, simplicity works best. Baldwin sits right in the middle of that groove, tickling those keys with SOUL.
If you are ready for a vocal track, then (Don’t Wanna Be) The Fool On The Hill will fit the bill. At first listen, you get the vibe of the classic, Don’t Ask My Neighbor. You then hear CeCe Peniston sing those initial notes, and I am sure you will come away impressed with the performance. This is a departure from Peniston’s usual style, and I must say that it really works for her.
I may need an entire CeCe Peniston album of songs in this style.
Imagine is up next, and the track features Euge Groove. They flipped the script on the tempo here, as the original is really mellow. The Baldwin/Groove effort is a mid-tempo and this is a track that you can add to your dinner party playlist. You will immediately recognize that signature Euge Groove sound, and he and Baldwin play off of each other quite nicely.
In Michelle (My Girl), Baldwin teams up with Ragan Whiteside, and I really like this track. In case you did not know, Ms. Whiteside is a master of the flute, and after listening to this song, I will need more of that flute in my jazz! Once again, Baldwin does a masterful job on this mid-tempo track, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that funky drummer, Tony Lewis.
You may recognize the next track, Something (In The Way She Moves). If you don’t, you are definitely in for a treat. This is all Bob Baldwin here, and if there is ever pop song that lends itself to a jazz remake, this is it. The piano is out front, but you will also hear some nice strings in the background. I would say that it is almost a New Age style song. Baldwin hit it out of the park with this one.
Vocalist Lori Williams lends her talents to the next two tracks. She gives us a soulful performance on My Love, and with this one I can imagine her sitting on top of the piano as she sings performs the song. Once again, the keyboard strings in the background really adds to the overall feel to the track.
In Abbey Road, Williams is back and this could totally be in regular rotation in R&B radio. It has all of the elements of a great song: A strong melody, great lyrics, smoothed out vocals, and instrumentation that is totally on point. There’s not too much more that you can say about the track.
Up next is Yesterday. Once again, Baldwin is doing it big with both the piano and the keyboard. He switches it up between the two throughout the song. This is another song that lends itself well to a Smooth Jazz version.
With Eleanor Rigby, I must say that Baldwin truly made this song his own. With every other track on the album, I could tell that they were remakes. Some were easier to tell than others, but this one can pass for an original song. The musicianship here is second to none.
The album concludes with an alternate version of Something (In The Way She Moves). Baldwin plays all of the instruments and supplies the vocals for your enjoyment. This is a fitting way to end the set. I am not sure which version I like better, the vocal or the instrumental version.
You do not have to be a Beatles fan to enjoy this album. Actually, I think it is better if you have not heard the originals. This way, you can just enjoy the music in its purest form.
Most of the Beatles’ original songs were around three minutes long. These tracks average about five minutes in length, while a few tip the scales at more than six minutes long. The longer, the better as far as I am concerned!
Take a listen, and I am sure you will add a few of these tracks to your favorite playlist.