Invitation [Bonus Tracks]

by: Norman Connors

By the late '70s, Connors had gained a new audience that was perhaps unfamiliar with his earlier jazz efforts like Dark of Light and Love From the Sun. Later albums like Saturday Night Special, You Are My Starship, and Romantic Journey had Connors putting R&B in the mix. This 1979 album is the follow-up to the classic This Is Your Life. While that effort seemed to attain a good mix of intelligent R&B and jazz, Invitation finds the formula a little diluted. This does start off on a good foot. The first track "Your Love Is My Ecstasy" features spirited vocals by Al Johnson and great drumming. Ada Dyer, who's also known as Miss Adaritha, handles the rest of the lead vocals. The ballads "Handle Me Gently" and the title track are good but lack a certain earthiness and charm inherent in Connors' best work. In fact, Invitation seems to be hampered by lack of material and often comes off a little uninspired. "Disco Land" is the biggest misstep here. The track finds Connors jumping on the bandwagon a little too late and with a hackneyed production to boot. The instrumental "I Have a Dream" is better suited for Connors and features beautiful trumpet and fl├╝gelhorn solos from Eddie Henderson. The meditative "Beijo Partido" has good soprano sax work from Starship Orchestra member Ralph "Buzzy" Jones. While Invitation is too spotty to be called a classic, his fans will no doubt enjoy a few of the better tracks. ~ Jason Elias

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