Some of the advantages that 2004's Greatest Hits has over 1995's The Best of Alexander O'Neal are apparent from the quickest of glances. The most obvious difference is the quantity of songs: while The Best of Alexander O'Neal functioned as a suitable introduction covering the singer's first three albums, this disc features five more sensibly picked cuts. The most important inclusion here, beyond all the essential chart hits ("If You Were Here Tonight," "Criticize," "Fake," "Never Knew Love Like This," "All True Man," "What Is This Thing Called Love?"), is "Saturday Love," the magnificent 1986 single previously bound to duet partner Cherrelle's catalog. Alexander O'Neal (1985), Hearsay (1986), and All True Man (1991) are all worth owning, but this compilation will do for those on a budget.
Portraits Drawn Without You is a set of original compositions that I wrote for piano and voice during the past year. It draws from a diverse range of idioms, perhaps as much from Joni Mitchell and John Cage as from Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. Even larger is the number of people who inspired moments in each work. It seems oddly apt to honor them with my first solo project. People I have known at various points in my life float in and out of the compositions freely. Each piece is a sort of musical portrait, an act of representation in which the true subject is conspicuously absent. The end effect, I hope, is like that of walking through the halls of a portrait gallery: You know that the figures on the walls know each other, but it is up to you to figure out the story of how.
Reissue with the latest remastering and the original cover artwork. Comes with a description written in Japanese. A nice little set from Monty Alexander – a Sunday Night session recorded with the same group, on the same weekend as his Saturday Night album! Monty Alexander's always great in a trio, but we really love the pianist when he's trying to add a little something extra to the mix – as he does here in a quartet performance that features some nice added percussion from Robert Thomas! The tracks have that warm glow and open flow that Alexander first started bringing to his music in the 70s – with sensitive rhythm work here from Reggie Johnson on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums – but the added percussion really helps things swing at a slightly higher level, giving a gentle kick to some cuts, while Monty's still able to open up with some warmly lyrical lines over the top.