Atlantic Starr hit its commercial peak in the late '80s, when the bland, insipid adult contemporary ballad "Always" soared to number one on both the pop and R&B charts. That song put Atlantic Starr in the Whitney Houston/Lionel Richie realm – in other words, people who associate Atlantic Starr with "Always" think of them as a crossover act. But from an R&B standpoint (as opposed to a pop/adult contemporary standpoint), Atlantic Starr provided their best work in the early '80s, when Sharon Bryant was still on board and the East Coast residents were being produced by James Carmichael. Released in 1982, Brilliance was the second of three albums that Carmichael produced for Atlantic Starr – and it is also one of the band's finest and most essential releases.
Jarrett's 1970s albums may have confused some purists but they should be a goldmine for contemporary fans of all stripes who like improvised music. El Juicio is an excellent early Jarrett album and finds him in typically eclectic form with his classic American quartet. I nominate the opener, "Gypsy Moth," as the best piece on the record. Sounding a little like a more confident version of "Lisbon Stomp," from Jarrett's 1967 debut album Life Between the Exit Signs, Jarrett first whips up a rollicking theme on the piano and then switches to soprano sax towards the end, the rhythm section swinging hard throughout.
Wessell Anderson is a big-toned alto saxophonist of generous spirit and above-average skill, who obviously admires the late Cannonball Adderley a great deal. This album's opening track, "Sunday Souful Supper," comes off as virtual Cannonball, with the equally rotund younger altoist serving heaping portions of red beans and rice, Adderley-style. The record as a whole is a hard-bop (re)hash and well-played.
Flushed with the success of his first solo effort and the continuing adulation from his role in the supergroup CSNY, Stephen Stills must have felt like he could do no wrong, and in many instances, his second solo disc proves him right.