Professor RJ Ross - Professor RJ Ross And The University Of Soul (2007)

Professor RJ Ross
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Sometimes I wish I had graduated from a University of Soul because my actual degree did me no good at all! Judging by the music on this album however, my attendance at this funky institute would have given me a first rather than the 'gentlemen's' degree that I ended up with particularly with the Professor marking the papers!

Whilst this is a debut set from Ross that crosses the boundaries of soul, jazz and RnB, the man himself has a lifetime of music to his credit. Born in Detroit, he was a founding member of the legendary funk band Brainstorm and a Ross original composition 'This must be Heaven' continues to gain world-wide airplay even today.   Other than a cover version of the Johnny Mercer classic 'Autumn Leaves,' which manages to add an even more melancholy sadness to the original perfectly capturing the loss of warmer times, the album is full of originals. And none is better than 'Wishing,' an intricate love song that weaves the soft almost falsetto vocals of Ross with strong backing support from Sandy Griffith to capture the longing of two people in love who are not yet entirely sure of the other's feelings towards them. My favourite, the gentle raging against the state of the world 'When we've had Enough,' is a gem of a song led by Ross on electric piano and oh so measured vocals. Indeed the laid back feel to the album is one of it's strengths as is it's natural production recorded at the famed Capital Studios in Hollywood.

Overall this is a very passionate album full of an old school type of soul that highlights a seasoned and very talented performer of soul and jazz who brings a unique style to the format. As in-house keyboard player for the world-famous Fantasy Studios, Ross has worked with them all and it shows. This is most definitely the real deal and if you are a good student you can even go to the website and download an honorary degree from one of the best teachers of the art form around.   

A JL Review

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