Manson’s second solo CD, Just
a big punch. There are eleven tracks – eight
of which are written by Manson – and a reprise,
and seven of the tracks are over five minutes long, including
a gutsy six-minute cover of the Luther Vandross hit, “There’s
Nothing Better Than Love.” This album is full of
uplifting, energetic, R&B, Gospel, Funk and contemporary
Manson has been a sought-after sideman for some of the best-known
names in the genre for years. Now he has gathered some
of those artists – Norman Brown, Rick Braun, Brian
Culbertson, Lenny Castro, George Duke, Paul Jackson, Jr.,
Jeff Lorber, Nelson Rangell, Kevin Whalum, and Kirk Whalum – together
to lend their considerable talents to this project, and the
results are that Mike Manson has proved beyond a doubt that
he deserves his spot on center stage.
The CD begins with the no-holds-barred “Coming Right
At Ya,” featuring Jeff Lorber, Kirk Whalum and Paul
Jackson, Jr. This one has all the energy of a live
performance. Next, enjoy some Mike Manson fancy finger-work
on “It’s The Way She Moves.” The energy
keeps flowing with the melody-driven, radio-friendly title
track, featuring Brian Culbertson, Nelson Rangell, Lenny
Castro and Paul Jackson, Jr.
Mike slows things down a little with the emotion-filled
Luther Vandross hit, “There’s Nothing Better
Than Love.” There are some really nice background
vocals here, but they never over-power the lead voice – Manson’s
Next, it’s time to get a little funky with “Way
Back When,” featuring Rick Braun and Jeff Lorber. Definitely
a “good-time” song! Basically a duet of
Manson and Kirk Whalum, “Another Chance” is one
of the best tracks on the CD. This one is incredible – worth
the price of the CD alone.
“In Flight” – a place where every musician
has spend a considerable amount of time – is what we
call in our house “great traveling music.” Manson
lays his bass on top of an upbeat and steady groove. “Still
Thinking About You,” a slower, in-the-groove track,
features the unmistakable guitar-work of Norman Brown.
“The Bassment” is another track that’s
worth the cost of the CD all by itself. This is a party
in your CD player, with Manson and the legendary Mr. George
Duke. Go ahead and hit “replay,” once is
definitely not going to be enough.
Personally, if I never heard “Lovely Day” again,
I’d be a happier person, but that aside, Manson’s
take on it, along with Kevin Whalum’s vocals, almost
make me want to forgive them for covering it. Almost.
Mike Manson, Mike Logan and Ernie Adams put together a wonderful
jazz-inspired, soulful take on the old hymn, “Tis So
Sweet.” Sweet, indeed. And to wrap it all up,
we get a little reprise of “The Bassment.” Hey,
even Manson knew once wasn’t going to be enough!
- Elizabeth Ware