Doc Powell,
97th & Columbus
(Heads Up, 2003)

Doc Powell has been playing guitar professionally for more than two decades and has worked with many of the top names in R&B, including Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick. 97th & Columbus is his seventh contemporary jazz project and his first release on the Heads Up International label. It is a mixture of his own compositions and those of the musicians who were most influential in his life.

This is Doc Powell's tribute to the bygone era and great musicians with a strong demonstration of his current work. His goal is to create an atmosphere and listening experience like you would find in the jazz club, Mikell's, located at 97th & Columbus in New York City where he played as a beginner.

When I put this CD into the player, I immediately played track 10, "What's Going On." The beauty of this composition swept me away. The vocals sounded familiar so I scanned through the promo paperwork. Luther Vandross is featured in these vocals. The lineup of talent floored me. Doc Powell brought in some of the best -- the musicians who "inspired him, then and now" -- to assist with this collection. The list below will give you a strong idea of the amount of talent found on this album, an impressive who's who.

"The Flavour" has a distinctly Latin style, while "Two Hearts" and "Thank You" will make you want to cuddle up with a loved one to do some serious slow dancing. "Breezin'" is light and happy with some cool wind sound effects, a fantastic rendition of this classic. "97th & Columbus" has a saxophone that summons you to the middle of the floor for spins and gyrations. The emphatic breaks are ideal for solo dancing.

Doc Powell has a unique guitar sound that is unequalled in the music industry. He can make a guitar speak and sing. The skill acquired from a lifetime of playing shines through clearly in his performances; this is what jazz guitar is all about.

Musicians include Doc Powell on electric and classical guitars and keyboards, Lavalle Bell, Harvey Mason and Land Richards on drums, Terry Baker on drum programming, Ron Brown on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, Sekou Bunch, Marcus Miller, Dwayne "Smitty" Smith and Keith Taylor on electric bass, Tim Carmen, George Duke, Thomas McMoran, Reggie Royal and Bobby Sparks on Rhodes, Shaun Martin on strings, Bennie Maupin on bass clarinet and soprano sax, Patrice Rushen on acoustic piano, Carolyn White on scat vocals and Geary Lanier, Vonciele Faggett, Carol Dennis, Kristle Murden, Ricky Nelson and Alice Jean Witherspoon on background vocals.

This is a jazz collection to die for! Doc Powell's performance is outstanding, and the addition of so many superstars from the industry makes this a superb CD and a real value for the price.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 4 October 2003

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