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Soul Express Album of the Month in September 2008

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US Alex JDot Productions, 2008

1) Kissing You 2) Bernadette 3) Lullabye 4) Promise 5) Jazzman Blues 6) Sunlight in My Rain 7) Windows 8) Keep Risin' to the Top 9) A Million Ways 10) In Your Eyes

Can you imagine Will Downing singing the Keith Washington classic Kissing You? Well, that's exactly the impression you get when you're listening to Alex Lattimore's reading of the song. It's like Will singing the tune over an extremely stylish, jazzy, even Bossa Nova-ish musical backdrop with lots of saxophone, and Alex really sounds like Will Downing at his very best on this glorious track - one of the best you'll hear all year!

Luckily, Alex's debut set is not an all-cover set, but having Kissing You and Keni Burke's classic Keep Risin' to the Top as the cover song picks on his album speaks volumes about what kind of an artist we have here. Alex Lattimore has been questing mainly on jazz albums before this debut set, and the fact that he is also a talented trumpet/flugel horn player has helped him building a reputation of a major new talent in the jazz/soul scene. Alex was a member of band called Sirius B. Project, which released an album on Cafe de Soul label in the U.K. back in 2003, and after that his vocals have been heard on several other CDs including Moon Bossa by Khari Simmons & Julie Dexter, Sun and Moon and Day Into Night by Jiva and Breathe New Life by Rhonda Thomas.

Promise is Lattimore's debut solo album, and it proves he is much more than a mere impersonator of Will Downing. On different tracks, Alex sound quite different, and what is self-evident that he is perfectly at home at a jazz and bossa nova atmosphere with real instrumentation, and his debut set is targeted for people who enjoy as much jazz and bossa nova as much as they love listening to timeless soul music.

Personally, I admit that I belong exactly to this target group, and thus I love both the jazzier cuts on offer here and the more soul-oriented tunes. Those who prefer Alex in a Downing-ish mode, will certainly adore tracks like the aforementioned soul covers Kissing You and Risin' to the Top, as well as the lovely closing track In Your Eyes or the previous track A Million Ways, both of which could have stylistically been included on any of Downing's recent albums. As a vocalist, Alex has also been compared to Jon Lucien and Luther Vandross - you can also track him covering Luther's Never too Much live on concert (Hot Ice Live in Atlanta at VideoGoogle).

On the other hand, if you love first-class jazzy instrumentation with bossa nova type of rhythms, you will certainly also love tracks like Windows (co-written with Khari Simmons) or Sunlight in the Rain. Bernadette is a serene ballad with Kevin Houser on alto sax and Alex singing partly improvised lyrics over a smooth bossa nova rhythm - Alex himself blows the fluger horn solo. The following track Lullabye also features Alex on flugel horn plus DeWayne Martin on tenor saxophone, while the vocal parts are limited to some mild colouring by Alex.

I regard the whole project as one of the finest in the whole decade, although I reckon that this CD will mainly attract those readers who also like jazz, while the soul lovers will probably stick to the Will Downing-ish tunes on the album. I'd also love to see Alex performing live some day - hopefully in some intimate jazz club or at a jazz festival. The artists he has already opened for of performed with include Earl Klugh, Groove Collective, Roy Ayers, Loose Ends, Kindred the Family Soul and Maysa Leak.

- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express

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