Like Roy Ayers, Patrice Rushen, George Benson, and George Duke, Tom Browne is a perfect example of a jazz musician who switched to R&B and was lambasted by jazz snobs for it. As jazz's hardcore saw it, the trumpeter was a sellout -- a gifted Clifford Brown disciple who was shamelessly wasting his chops playing commercial music. But commercial music isn't necessarily inferior to jazz, and the fact is that much of Browne's soul/funk output was excellent. While jazz snobs dismissed Browne's third album, Magic, because it contains very little jazz, the Dave Grusin/Larry Rosen-produced LP has a lot going for it from a soul/funk standpoint. The only cuts on Magic that have anything to do with jazz are the sensuous quiet storm instrumental "Night Wind" and a lush Grusin arrangement of Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child." This is an R&B album first and foremost, and those who admired Browne for his 1980 hit "Funkin' for Jamaica" also admired such Magic cuts as the funky "Let's Dance," the Earth, Wind & Fire-ish "I Know," and the addictive funk hit "Thighs High (Grip Your Hips and Move)," all of which feature vocalist Toni Smith -- a passionate, Chaka Khan-influenced belter who had been featured on "Funkin' for Jamaica." While jazz snobs would be better off passing on Magic, R&B fans will find a lot to admire about Browne's third album. ~ Alex Henderson
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