The wide-ranging new adult contemporary tag is a godsend for the whimsically chameleon-like vocal personae of Arnold McCuller
who's resume as a background singer is no less across the board than his challenging debut. Basically a soul singer who digs all forms of jazz, McCuller
forgoes strict commercial trappings to make a series of important statements that are at once fun, meaningful, and proof that diversity can have its charms. No two cuts are alike, as he exposes us to brassy traditions, smoky lounges, folksy charm (with Bonnie Raitt
on the best tune "Soul Searchin'"), social awareness, gospel and blues texturing, and, closing the program, a cool Portuguese ode to "Brasileira." McCuller
may leave those who like to pigeonhole their music in a state of scattered consciousness, and some artsy touches do obscure the deeper pleasures. Still, with all-star help from Gregory Adams, Dave Koz
, and Ricardo Silveira
, he tells his own story without the usual trappings. You've got to admire his desire to convey everything in his musical heart.