Disregard the fact that the "space" in Steve Miller
's "space blues" was a large part of why he had his own distinctive musical identity, because if you're going into 1988's Born 2B Blue
looking for a return to his trademark space blues, or even a revitalization of his roots, you'll be sorely disappointed. In fact, this isn't even a blues album -- it's a jazz album, pitched halfway between soul-jazz and smooth jazz. He's able to draft such heavy-hitters as Phil Woods
and Milt Jackson
for guest spots, and his taste in material is quite nice, balancing the overly familiar ("Willow Weep for Me," "God Bless the Child") with relatively obscure R&B cuts ("Ya Ya," "Mary Ann") and selections that demonstrate that he's a genuine fan, such as Horace Silver
's "Filthy McNasty." Now, does all this make Born 2B Blue
a worthwhile genre exercise? Well, in a sense, it does, since Miller
is passionate as he can be, turning in charmingly laid-back performances that may not be noteworthy, but are pleasant as can be. So, it winds up being something that's modestly impressive and enjoyable as it's playing, but no matter what its virtues are, it's more noteworthy for what it is than what it gives.