Personnel includes: Ronnie Laws (vocals, soprano & tenor saxophones, flute, electric piano); Dianne Reeves, Philip Bailey (vocals); Hubert Laws (flute); Mike Cavanaugh, Bobby Lyle, Donald Hepburn, Michael Hepburn, Barnaby Finch, Larry Dunn, Denzil Miller (keyboards); Roland Bautista, Marlon the Magician, Melvin Robinson, Pat Kelly (guitar); Wilton Felder, Nathaniel Phillips, Donnie Beck, Bobby Vega, Leon Johnson, Louis Satterfield (bass); Steve Guttierez, Bruce Carter, Art Rodriguez, William Bryant, Fred White, Raymond Pounds (drums); Tony Ben (congas); Joe Clayton, Bruce Smith, Andrew Acosta (percussion); Michael Miller, Ronald Coleman, Eloise Laws, Debra Laws, Saundra Alexander, Lovely Hardy, Sylvia St. James; Debra Thomas (background vocals).
Producers: Wayne Henderson, Ronnie Laws, William Jeffery.
The vast majority of albums that Ronnie Laws recorded in the 1980s and '90s were colossal disappointments, although 1996's superb A Tribute to Legendary Eddie Harris demonstrated that he was still capable of excellence. If you want to avoid hearing him play a lot of schlock, your best bets are those albums on which he salutes Eddie Harris and the saxman's mid- to late-'70s recordings on Blue Note. Although not everything on The Best of Ronnie Laws (which spans 1975-1980) is a gem, the CD has more hits than misses and boasts some of his more memorable recordings, including the insistent "Always There," the alluring "Night Breeze" and the melancholy ballad "Karmen." It's no coincidence that there are hints of Earth, Wind & Fire on "Solid Ground" and "Just As You Are" -- not only had Laws played with that soul powerhouse in 1972, but he also employs such EW&F members as keyboardist Larry Dunn and guitarist Roland Bautista. For those who enjoy the sort of jazz/soul/pop mixture that the Crusaders and Grover Washington, Jr. are best known for, this is a collection that, despite its flaws, is worth acquiring. ~ Alex Henderson.