Regina Belle – Lazy Afternoon
(Peak – 2004)
by Ray Redmond
Regina Belle has a voice that oozes warmth and familiarity like a gentle breeze. Her sweet falsetto harkens back to a time when love ballads were the norm, and vocals were cherished. On Lazy Afternoon she goes a different direction with a collection of jazz standards, torch songs and golden classics. Accompanied by a crew of veteran musicians that includes Christian McBride, Perri, Ray Fuller and George Duke (who plays and produces) Belle delivers an album that’s good listening in addition to being technically beautiful. For The Love of You has a nice prelude with Regina reminiscing with the Perry sisters before belting out the Harold Melvin classic. Moanin’ is a bluesy track that fits her strong style. The real gem here is the Brazilian track Corcovado where sings in english, then whispers the interludes in Portuguese.
The broadway tunes Lazy Afternoon and If I Ruled The World are soulful and well delivered. Her interpretation of the classic Fly Me To The Moon is a little disconcerting at first, but grows into a pretty nice rendition. Each song on this CD is carefully crafted and delivered to specification, and who can ignore that distinctive Duke touch that makes the flow and backbone of each piece so strong? But… somehow it’s beauty without depth, Love without tenderness. Simply stated, Regina Belle has put out a soulful, sensitive album that somehow lacks the overall soul that we expect from her. Good riding music but not a memorable release.