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The youngest of 12, Jeffrey Osborne spent his childhood patiently waiting for a turn to play his favorite records on the family turntable. Hours would go by, listening to Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, Gloria Lynne, Della Reese, Joe Williams and Billy Eckstine spun by his brothers and sisters. Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Clifford Brown poured from the speakers when it was his father’s turn. “So despite my love for Motown and doo wop,” laughs Osborne, “I really grew up listening to jazz and standards.” “It’s funny,” he continues. “I don’t think any of my family would have ever envisioned me doing a record like this. It’s always been R&B for me, but I don’t think any of them would be surprised to hear it. And because this music is in my roots, I actually feel more comfortable doing this than I do R&B.” With the release of A Time For Love, Osborne shows that it is his time, indeed, to finally record the songs he has long adored.
Osborne pays homage to his R&B past with his take on “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” “We made sure it fits within what’s going on with this project,” he explains. “It just has a little groove to it that puts it in both worlds. This is the only song on the album that George played an old Wurlitzer on and it just has a great feel to it.” It was always part of the plan to deliver a couple of surprises refashioned as standards. “(They Long To Be) Close To You” was another. “Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote this amazing refrain,” says Osborne, “”so I really wanted to stick with it. I didn’t try to oversing the song with a lot of riffs. I wanted to sing it very whole.”
When it came to “What a Wonderful World,” the producer found inspiration in an unlikely place. “I thought ‘what the heck am I supposed to do?,’ remembers Duke. “All I could think about was Satchmo. Coincidentally, I was Musical Director of an International Jazz Day concert at the United Nations around that time, and Herbie Hancock – who put it together – said ‘I want someone to do ‘Wonderful World’ in the show.’ So I called Esperanza Spalding and said ‘do whatever you want’ and she took it so far outside of what it started out as that it cleared my mind of what it’s always been. I sat down and started playing these chords and came up with an idea for a groove and called Jeffrey to see if he liked it and he loved it.”