[arts + entertainment]
By ISABELLE DAVIS
A venerable J Dilla of R&B, Raphael Saadiq has been shaping the contemporary soul movement for the last 20 years. Be it his role as a new jack swing pioneer in Tony! Toni! Toné!, his short-lived but sincerely missed Lucy Pearl (his email response to my wishful request for a reunion was "NO (wink)," so here's hoping), his "gospel-delic" solo work or his endless producer credits, the man has cemented himself in the annals of R&B history. With his latest record, The Way I See It, Saadiq takes several of Cholly Atkins' choreographed steps back to 1960s Detroit and gives us a record that could definitely pass Berry Gordy's "quality control" department.
His current tour includes snappy suits, sharp footwork and vocals reminiscent of David Ruffin, former member of Saadiq's favorite Motown act, The Temptations: "The harmony was so amazing and rich all the time. Then there were so many great lead vocal personalities to choose from. At any moment another voice would jump out and grab you."
And the nod to popular music's greatest musical stable was a natural choice. "I felt it was time for me to have the second wave of the sound that's been around me since I could remember. But with all original songs, this was really important for me, their songs were always too great for me to try and cover." But considering that he had Stevie Wonder and Funk Brother Jack Ashford on his record, I think it would be allowed if he tried.
[Raphael Saadiq. Thu 3.19.09. Paradise Rock Club, 987 Comm. Ave., Boston. 617.562.8800. 8pm/18+/$26.50. thedise.com]
music: Raphael Saadiq [Weekly Dig]