R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

For A Soulful Evening


The world of classic soul and R&B is rich and deep with some of the greatest love songs ever written and recorded. The charge of picking a handful of tunes that would make for a perfect romantic evening on Valentine's Day from the literally thousands of titles in the vast Concord Music Group catalog is no easy task, but here's what I'd choose for the occasion.

Known, for good reason, as the "Prince Of Sophisticated Soul," Will Downing offers his distinctive brand of smooth sensuality with the title track of his 2007 Peak album After Tonight.

Self-described as the "Minister of Musical Seduction," the multi-talented singer/songwriter and producer Leon Ware (responsible for Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking '70s romantic classic album I Want You) is in his element with "Just Take Your Time," an orgasmic ode from his 2008 Moon Ride set.

"Reasons," an Earth, Wind & Fire chestnut from 1975, is given a wonderful makeover by the funky Minneapolis group Mint Condition on Interpretations: Celebrating The Music Of Earth, Wind & Fire.

The 1966 gentle hit "I'm Your Puppet," by brothers James & Bobby Purify, got a surprisingly tender treatment by contemporary hitmaker John Legend along with Samuel L. Jackson and late comedian Bernie Mac, the stars of the 2008 movie Soul Men.

The Jackson 5 originally recorded "Never Can Say Goodbye," a dreamy love song. Gloria Gaynor later disco-fied it but "Black Moses," one of soul music's true pioneers, turned in a spellbinding reading of it in 1971, which can be found on The Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It?

in this playlist.