The fact that R&B crooner Will Downing’s SENSUAL JOURNEY is delivered to us via a jazz label should be a clue that the singer, obviously no jazz artist, has a sophisticated, mature musical message to impart. Downing’s style manages to sound completely contemporary without ever delving into the prefabricated, hip-hop-influenced style of so many other R&B ballad specialists. SENSUAL JOURNEY is a personal, intimate recording. There’s no phalanx of producers and programmers at work here; instead Downing is appropriately accompanied by such smooth-jazz legends as Boney James and Lee Ritenour, and even straight-ahead jazz vibes master Stefon Harris. Downing’s warm, liquid voice moves organically through these arrangements, with emotional communication clearly its first priority. That’s what ultimately makes SENSUAL JOURNEY a success on its own terms.