Picks and Pans Review: Nature Boy: The Standards Album

updated 10/06/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Aaron Neville

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This album of 12 pop-jazz standards is a total triumph, from a gorgeous, romantic exploration of "The Very Thought of You" (with Neville's old duet partner Linda Ronstadt) to a heartbreaking version of "Danny Boy." Neville's blues-funk background and his ethereally beautiful voice serve him ideally. Easing the singer's transition into jazz is a group of tasteful, subtle musicians, including Roy Hargrove on trumpet and flugelhorn and Michael Brecker on tenor sax. Neville's brother Charles also shows up to play sax on a lush performance of the great Buddy Johnson ballad "Since I Fell for You."

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