Roy Ayers Sunshine Man
- Released: July 14, 2005
- Label: Aim Records
- 1.Everybody Loves the Sunshine
- 2.X File 4
- 3.Remember to Remember
- 7.Change / Chance
- 8.Sweet Talk
- 10.The Minister
- 11.Mystic Voyage
Personnel: Roy Ayers (vocals, vibraphone); Roy Ayers.
Audio Remixer: John Henry Hopkins, Jr.
Arrangers: Roy Ayers; Rex Rideout.
In the liner notes for Sunshine Man, Roy Ayers is exalted as "The Father of Neo-Soul." But it's important to remember that Ayers was making his mark in R&B long before the rise of artists who gave listeners a hip-hop-influenced, post-'70s vision of soul music (such as Keith Sweat and Alexander O'Neal in the '80s or D'Angelo in the '90s). Ayers became a soul-funk star back when the R&B charts were still called the soul charts and soul in the pre-'80s sense was still in vogue. Nonetheless, "The Father of Neo-Soul" isn't a totally inaccurate way to describe Ayers, because the singer/vibist influenced many of today's neo-soul stars (including Erykah Badu, India Arie, and Jill Scott). This Australian release finds Ayers revisiting some of the soul, funk, and crossover jazz gems he made famous in the '70s, including "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" and "Mystic Voyage." However, Sunshine Man isn't strictly an album of remakes from Ayers, who continued to write and produce after the 21st century arrived and hasn't lost his relevance. Although Ayers reached his commercial peak in the late '70s/early '80s, he continues to influence not only neo-soul, but also alternative rap and the downtempo/chillout area of club music. It should be noted that Sunshine Man isn't an all-R&B disc; the album also has its share of appealing fusion and crossover jazz instrumentals, including "Snoop," "The Minister," "Pump," and "Colors" -- and it's nice to hear Ayers providing some material that is jazz-oriented instead of merely jazzy. Sunshine Man isn't among Ayers' essential releases, but it's a respectable effort that will appeal to hardcore fans who appreciate him as both an R&B singer and a jazz instrumentalist. ~ Alex Henderson
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