Marion Meadows

Pleasure

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There's an antidote for those who like the sugary tones of the soprano sax but can't deal with the cloying approach of Kenny G -- Marion Meadows, who has released a stream of solid, gently grooving discs since 1991. The happy-go-lucky melodies and sharp improvisations on his fifth album echo the liner notes' sentiment: "Oh sweet saxophone what Pleasure you bring." As always, Meadows' playing is more about catchy hooks and straightforward delivery than flashy chops, but he stretches beyond this conservative angle on tunes like "Lucky Girl"; while never losing sight of the basic melodic riff, Meadows goes on an inventive tangent with bassist Wayman Tisdale, honking a sharp sax line, giving way to Tisdale's curt reply, then joining in in harmonic agreement. Meadows has an unfortunate habit of relying too much on backing vocals, and has greater success jamming with his instrumental guests, particularly Chieli Minucci, whose tender acoustic guitar provides graceful harmony behind Meadows' by the numbers reading of "Unbreak My Heart."

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