The Jazz Channel Presents Ben E. King (BET on Jazz)
Discover your sense of jazz with the soulful sounds of Ben E. King as he performs the smash hits that have made him an R&B legend. This "Jazz Central" concert was recorded live at Black Entertainment Television's Studio II and features the best of King singing the unforgettable songs of his 30-year career. Songs: Music Trance, Keepin' It to Myself, Supernatural Thing, A Lover's Question, This Magic Moment, There Goes My Baby, I Who Have Nothing, I'll Save the Last Dance, On Broadway, Amor, Don't Play That Song, Your Love Has Lifted Me (Higher and Higher), Ruby Baby, Under the Boardwalk, Up on the Roof, Stand By Me, Hallelujah I Love Her So, How Sweet It Is to Be Loved By You.
Doo wop is dead, and nothing, not even the silky voice of ex-Drifter Ben E. King, can bring back the dominant black pop music of the mid- to late 1950s. All King can do is revive the songs for nostalgic purposes, as evident by the middle-aged audience that sits politely for this 18-song set consisting mostly of golden oldies from King's days with the Drifters. The happy news is that King hasn't lost any of the vocal flair that made him a star. He's mellowed considerably, having lost the dynamic range that gave his best-loved songs ("There Goes My Baby," "This Magic Moment," etc.) that extra touch of depth and soul. Here, King is a smoother vocalist who respects the simple, melodic beauty of his music, and what he lacks in pizzazz he makes up for in professional polish, with a young band of musicians who back him with slick efficiency.
Visually, this Jazz Channel concert (recorded in 2000) is no different than an appearance on the Tonight Show or any other popular showcase; the routine stage and lighting remain static throughout. King isn't very strong on patter, but the DVD's welcomed "Meet the Artist" feature proves that he's a wellspring of anecdotal history and worthy advice to young musicians. Better, then, to focus on King's easy-going presence, the tight ensemble, and the simple pleasure of latter-day renditions of "Stand By Me," "Under the Boardwalk," "Under the Roof," and other standards that have proven their timeless appeal. Doo wop may be dead, but its echoes are as clear as ever. --Jeff Shannon
- Interview with Ben E. King
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