Ben E. King
is best known for his rhythm & blues recordings, so Shades of Blue
is a return to his roots. He is accompanied by a band led by trumpeter Tim Ouimette
that includes a single guest appearance apiece by tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman
and vibraphonist Milt Jackson
. The orchestra is very much in the Count Basie
groove, King adds a lot of soul to the lyrics without improvising much, and the music swings in a pleasing fashion. Among the selections that King
interprets are "Just for a Thrill," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "Stairway to the Stars," and "Baby Won't You Please Come Home." Nothing too surprising occurs, but the results are easy to enjoy. This is a happy set of mostly familiar material.