Old-school artists—especially in the R&B/hip-hop realm—are often dismissed for thinking they can still compete in today's scene.

Old-school artists—especially in the R&B/hip-hop realm—are often dismissed for thinking they can still compete in today's scene. And when labels pair veteran acts with younger (read hipper) songwriter/producers, the results can sound embarrassingly forced. But with his J debut—his first studio album in three years—the velvet-voiced Vandross proves, like Santana before him, that the old and new schools can successfully bridge the gap without compromising musical integrity. Teamed with such younger guns as Warryn Campbell, Shep Crawford, Jon B, and KayGee, among others, Vandross works his way around a delightful mix of up- and midtempo tunes ("Take You Out," "Grown Thangs") while serving up a tasty portion of quiet storms ("Bring Your Heart to Mine," the classic "Any Day Now"). It's a real shame that the glorious Denise Rich/Vandross-penned "You Really Started Something," which lovingly recalls the singer's disco era hits with Change, is included only on the international version of the disc.—GM