Angie Stone Black Diamond

The success of D’Angelo and Erykah Badu has helped to wedge the door a little wider for like-minded artists. As well as being a backing singer for D’Angelo, Angie Stone actively collaborated on fashioning several tracks on his Brown Sugar release. As the classy and subdued mood of Black Diamond confirms, Stone is hardly a newcomer and the list of collaborators underlines her seasoned clout. Lenny Kravitz pays Stone back for her stints playing sax in his band, lending guitar work to “Green Grass Vapours” and “Just a Pimp.” Other collaborators include former beau D’Angelo (“Everyday”) and Ali Shaheed Mohammed, formerly of A Tribe Called Quest, on the insistently melodic “Bone 2 Pic (Wit U).” Despite possessing a powerful voice, Stone rides tracks smoothly, including the respectful rendering of Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man,” building tension in a meaningful way rather than falling prey to needless histrionics. (Arista)