One inspiration for the title of bassist Nathan East's second album for Yamaha --
third if the Grammy-nominated Bob James collaboration The New Cool is counted --
was the passing of Maurice White. The Earth, Wind & Fire leader is twice paid explicit
tribute on Reverence. First, there's a faithful version of "Love's Holiday," featuring
Philip Bailey in support, with East's bass in White's lead role during the verses.
A slick "Can't Hide Love" fake-out and some other references are in the mix, too.
Additionally, "Serpentine Fire" gets an ornate update with Bailey and EW&F partners
Verdine White and Ralph Johnson. Phil Collins' drums and Eric Clapton's guitar are
dredged from the master recording of an abandoned project, lost for 25 years, that
was found in Patti Austin's basement by East's engineer. Given East's continued predilection
for uplifting wordless melodies, and the frequent use of bright horns, the uplifting
spirit of EW&F flows through much of the album. The Ruben Studdard-fronted "Why Not
This Sunday," for instance, sounds like it could be a cover of something from the
Faces era. The album's balanced mix of originals and reinterpretations, including
another nod to Stevie Wonder (with saxophonist Kirk Whalum), connects it with East's
2014 release, and so does another duet with his pianist son Noah -- the latter hopefully
a recurring element of future recordings. Yolanda Adams and Nikki Yanofsky take lead
vocal turns elsewhere, and Chick Corea is showcased on the subtly soaring "Shadow,"
a throwback of sorts to late-'70s fusion albums like Secret Agent and Friends. East
plays multiple bass parts on the majority of the songs, including a solo version
of "Until We Meet Again," the conclusion.