Personnel: Will Downing (background vocals); Randy Bowland (guitar); Gary Meeks, Ron King (horns); Rex Rideout (keyboards); Michael White , Buddy Williams (drums); Audrey Wheeler Downing (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Jeff Kaman; Tip Wyman; Ray Bardani.
Audio Remasterer: Chris Gehringer.
Recording information: Big Bully Studio, GA; Justice Proco Studio, PA; KAR Studio, CA; Knoops Studio, NJ; MSL Studio, CA; Randland Studio, PA; Will Down Sound, NJ.
Photographer: Whitney Thomas.
The title of Will Downing's 2009 effort, CLASSIQUE, produced by the artist and Rex Rideout, may be a bit misleading: it is not a compilation but a brand-spanking new collection of contemporary jazz-inflected R&B--in other words, classic Downing. The album's first single, "Something Special"--with its hand drums, loops, and slippery flute flitting around a well-placed, subtle horn section--is at its core a popping midtempo love song. Elsewhere, his cover of Barry White's "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit More Baby" reveals just how deep the master's influence is on Downing. He may not have the full depth of White's baritone, but he gets close, and his expressiveness and emotional connection to the song make it shine. The completely old-school Marvin Gaye ballad "Baby I'm for Real" features a duet appearance by Phil Perry. It's convincing and utterly gorgeous. But not only do the covers work here; Downing's originals connect too--and not just the aforementioned single, but "Love Suggestions," "Ride," and "Let's Make It Now" also reveal the depth and breadth of Downing's songwriting. CLASSIQUE is indeed everything its title claims it is, and perhaps more. This is old-school urban R&B without a hint of nostalgia or pandering gimmickry.