Another gem from 1983’s The Songstress. If I taught a class on R&B arranging this cut would definitely be on the syllabus. So many great lessons to learn in the arrangement listen to the interplay between the guitar and the Fender Rhodes electric piano in the intro: there’s a dialog there, a back and forth that makes not only the melodic and rhythmic line interesting the overall effect on the ear is that it really is one line. In other words, it would be like two people spelling out one word alternating each letter but what you hear overall is the word.

There’s so much more here from the fantastic drum sound that opens the song, the big unison horn lines, gorgeous legato strings and on and on and to think it’s all capped off with that Anita sultry alto which in this instance is exploring the very depth of her lower register. That sound is almost like the subtone of the tenor saxophone on a lush ballad (Check out any Ben Webster ballad to get a sense of that sound if you’re not familiar with it). This is music, the importance of which should not be underestimated.

Here is one of the million of reasons that Anita Baker is our Artist of the Month. We need music more than ever, we need the examples to follow. No we’re not looking for clones, just looking for musicians willing to take in the influences and let the essence come out in their music. Music is just like technology in a lot of ways: Garbage in/Garbage out. Let’s just feast on the good stuff for a while and see what happens.

One last note while I’m on the soapbox.

Do we continue to push the music forward in 2011? Of course we do, but shouldn’t we also acknowledge something this classic that, by careful study, could improve the skill set of any person that refers to themselves as an arranger/producer/writer of music? You better believe we should. It’s one thing to have skills and to decide to go another way, but what we see too often is folks who don’t have the skills making excuses and we all know what excuses are.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.