He's Coming captures Roy Ayers at the absolute top of his game, masterminding jazz-funk grooves as taut as a tightrope. Profoundly inspired by the Broadway musical Jesus Christ Superstar (and including a reading of the soundtrack's "I Don't Know How to Love Him"), the album is a deeply felt exploration of Ayers' spiritual and social beliefs, celebrating the life and rebirth of Jesus with "He's a Superstar" and its follow-up title cut before delivering the equally impassioned political manifesto "Ain't Got Time to Be Tired," a wake-up call for slumbering revolutionaries. Aided by an exemplary backing unit featuring saxophonist Sonny Fortune, bassist John Williams, keyboardist Harry Whitaker, and drummer Billy Cobham, Ayers channels the intensity of his message into his music, creating the most vibrant and textured music of his career to date.
While the first “Fahrt ins Blaue” (journey into the blue/unknown) album from ACT in 2016 offered classy songs for chilling, a great place just to hang out and relax, the new album “FiB II - groovin' in the spirit of jazz” leads us straight out onto the dance floor. From the moment it opens up, with funky jazz, gritty blues and bucketloads of soul, this compilation sets the tone for a night of partying.
It took decades for Andy Bey to become an overnight success, but in the mid-'90s he was finally recognized as a premier talent, and recorded a handful of finely crafted discs. A true jazz singer avoiding monochromatic crooning, his style is deeply blue-hued, silky smooth but never slick. This live club date at Birdland in New York City was recorded in 1997, around the time of his overdue success, but not released until a full decade later. The pacing of the program is a little up-and-down, which is atypical of the normally mellow Bey. He does sing more than his share of balladic material, and when he does, there is no more patient virtue expressed in all of jazz, his slight vibrato ruminating and tripping heartstrings. The title track and "Hey Love," the 4:00 A.M. mood for "On Second Thought," and the solo closer "Someone to Watch Over Me" dip into this dynamic, as drawn-out slow and steady as a daily sunset. To play this way may be the most difficult thing to do in music, but Bey is absolutely masterful. Like his parallel performing shadow Nat King Cole, Bey is also an excellent pianist, and a true player of the instrument.