She - Will Downing
All Music Guide
Will Downing first had chart success singing the kind of smooth, uptown soul akin to his '80s contemporaries Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson. It wasn't until 1991 that the singer took the plunge into jazzy-flavored R&B with the A Dream Fulfilled album. Downing didn't totally turn his back on R&B though. The LP's opening track, "She," is produced by keyboardist/arranger Barry Eastmond, whose credits include sides by Freddie Jackson and Phil Perry. The cut has a brisk feel and has a smooth veneer that wouldn't necessarily have turned off his early R&B fans. Downing sings with a kind of breathy abandonment that suggests that he was finally singing the kind of music that he wanted.
Giving My All to You - Will Downing
Listening to Will Downing's pre-'90s LPs, you get the feeling that he wasn't exactly where he wanted to be. They included classy covers of such jazz standards as "Love Supreme" and loud, out-of-place pseudo-dance tracks. It seemed his soulful, creamy baritone deserved better. With 1991's A Dream Fulfilled, the singer seemed to be where he wanted to. One track, "Giving My All to You," was a tasty precursor to the singer's new direction. The mellow track features the seductive alto sax of Vincent Henry. Nice accents are supplied by drummer Omar Hakim.
I Try - Will Downing
When an artist does a stylistic shift, it's a gamey matter. The artist has to figure out a way to maintain his fan base while at the same time making music that appeals to an audience that may have never heard of him/her. The best approach is to find a common area. Angela Bofill's "I Try" had appealed to both R&B and jazz lovers. The popular radio-aired LP track was included on her 1979 Top Ten R&B/number 34 pop album Angel of the Night. Will Downing was making a genre-jumping change when he chose to cover "I Try." The singer was initiating a full changeover from singing the kind of uptown soul of his contemporaries Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson to a mixture of jazz/ soul and R&B popularized by another contemporary of his, Anita Baker. The first album to fully feature his musical shift was 1991's A Dream Fulfilled. The gamble paid off with "I Try" going to number 13 R&B in spring 1991 while A Dream Fulfilled went to number 22 R&B.
For All We Know - Will Downing
It seemed that by the early '90s Will Downing was ready to fulfill his true musical vision. His earlier albums had been dotted with clues about his new musical calling. On them, you'll find classy covers of John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" and a cool, jazzy take on Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star." His 1991 LP A Dream Fulfilled was a strong collection that adeptly balanced jazz, soul, and R&B. Downing continued to cover song standards as he'd done on previous releases. On "For All We Know," the track is enveloped by Downing's languishing, deep caressing baritone which is framed by the gentle brush strokes of drummer Michael Carvin, the acoustic bass of Kenny Davis, and the tasty noodlings of pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs.
Something's Going On - Will Downing
Originally having chart success with the kind of uptown soul popularized by Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson, Will Downing seemingly wanted to go in the direction of another '80s contemporary, Anita Baker. Downing sprinkled his albums with the same kind of light fusion of jazz, soul, and R&B, though his musical vision didn't fully take shape until the aptly titled A Dream Fulfilled. "Something's Going On," co-written by jazz drummer Lenny White and originally done by 52nd Street (the 1986 Top Ten R&B hit "Tell Me (How It Feels)"), seemed to perfectly mirror the kind of genre-fusing music that Downing aspired to make. The track has a swinging feel to it, propelled by the syncopated accents of drummer Omar Hakim and anchored by nimble bass lines.
I Go Crazy - Will Downing
Will Downing had done jazzy covers of pop tunes on previous LPs, most notably the Rose Royce hit "Wishing on a Star" from his 1989 LP Come Together As One. On his 1991 LP A Dream Fulfilled, he chose Paul Davis' 1977 number seven pop hit "I Go Crazy." Downing gives the song a lilting, romantic interpretation with his ginger phrasing. The track has a kind of common-man, standing-on-the-street-corner vibe. No over-the-top, bragging Lothario here, just a guy that tells his girl "I go crazy when I look in your eyes." There are clever, double-timed scat-like background vocals to boot. Issued as a single, "I Go Crazy" went to number 37 R&B in summer 1991.
No Love Intended - Will Downing
With the early-'90s resurgence of such golden-throated balladeers as Carl Anderson and Jon Lucien, Will Downing's opportunity to do a kind of fused jazz/ soul/ R&B music seemed to have arrived. During the '80s, the singer had mostly made uptown soul similar to that of Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson. Wisely for his first full-fledged effort in his new musical direction, Downing enlisted the talents of instrumental heavyweights. For his take on "No Love Intended," Downing's creamy baritone vocals are framed by the muted trumpet solos of Eddie Henderson. Kevin Eubanks (who'd later trade comedic riffs as a member of the house band on NBC-TV's Tonight Show With Jay Leno) laces the track with nimble acoustic guitar runs.
The World Is a Ghetto - Will Downing
Will Downing finally seemed to be in a position to do the kind of album that he wanted. While the Brooklyn, NY, native's first efforts could stylistically be listed with the sides of his '80s contemporaries Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson, Downing yearned to do music in the jazz/ soul/ R&B vein of another contemporary, Anita Baker. Covering a known pop standard was a smart move on the part of Downing for his 1991 LP A Dream Fulfilled. It made the transition easier for his fans. One such cover was "The World Is a Ghetto," a 1972 million-selling Top Ten R&B/ pop hit for War. Like Dexter Wansel's "Solutions" ( The Very Best of Dexter Wansel), the track begins with news broadcasts that offer dire statistics. Anthony Jackson provides a stalking bass line that accents the lyrics. Scat vocals and guitar solos that evoke both Wes Montgomery and George Benson are supplied by Jonathan Butler.