Ronnie Cuber – Passion Fruit (1985)

I am a huge Ronnie Cuber fan and this album was quite possibly his first dud. As a child of the late 70’s and  80’s I feel quite confident that my musical viewpoint has enough context that I can safely comment on this album. I have only recently brought this back out of my collection after listening to Enrico Pieranunzi collaboration with Cuber on Inconsequence. I just could not remember anything about this album and felt that it deserved a listen. I was partially wrong.
This album is a collaboration of Ronnie Cuber and George Benson. Both titans in their genres but as often happens in collaborations one parties style seems to win out over the others. In the case of this album George Benson’s office friendly style of smooth jazz seems to sap the very life out of Cubers normally gutsy solos. I am not suggesting that there isn’t great performances going on, in fact the problem is that the great performances are smothered by layers of synth-pop keyboards and over processed bass. 
Of course this album is from the 80’s so some amount of this is expected but one only has to look to David Sanborn, Richard Elliot, or Grover Washington Jr to hear what 80’s smooth jazz was when done well. Cuber still does what he does best and is well accompanied by George Benson. But again, the music on this album just did not stand the test of time in a major way.
Worth listening to? Yes with the caveat that you should NOT pay much for the album. The sticker on my copy said I paid $1.99 and at that price it’s worth it to add to my Cuber discography. I don’t see it occupying a recurring position on the average Cuber fans playlist. 
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