Leon Ware - Candlelight 


An album recorded just last year by soul and jazz vocal stylist Leon Ware is a trip down memory lane.  Eleven of the thirteen tracks here are jazz standards, the other two are from the pen of Leon Ware himself.

Leon has written hit songs for The Jackson 5, The Miracles, Jr. Walker, Bobby Womack, Donny Hathaway, Isaac Hayes, Ike & Tina Turner, The Main Ingredient, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.  The Marvin Gaye album “I Want You” was entirely written and produced by Ware – need to know more?


Lovers of relaxing jazz and soul should appreciate the simplicity of these arrangements, which mostly feature just Ware’s voice and the piano and Fender Rhodes of Don Grusin.  Oscar Castro-Neves acoustic guitar and Brian Bromberg’s acoustic bass are used sparingly and are welcome additions.


A stunning example of the choice of material on the disc is How Insensitive, a Jobim tune treated very respectfully.  Don Grusin sounds like Joe Sample to my ears on this song – I can’t pay a higher compliment!


This CD’s opening track Invitation was used by Joe Sample as the title track of his own album of jazz standards.  Other tracks on “Candlelight” include My Funny Valentine and Misty.  My favourite cut here is Let Go, one of the Ware-penned songs, latin-tinged, sexy – more please!


A track-by-track analysis of this album would be pointless – the clue is in the title.  Pour some wine, light some candles, get comfortable and press “play”.  Let the music wash over you.  Leon Ware has a delicate voice, well suited to the light and shade in these songs.  You don’t hear style like this too often…

Reviewed by Chris Mann


Expansion Records XECD 30 – Produced and arranged by Don Grusin and Leon Ware