One of the first releases on the resurrected Okeh Records imprint, 2013's Quartette Humaine features pianist Bob James and saxophonist David Sanborn performing a set of mostly original songs that walk the line between funky contemporary jazz and more thoughtful post-bop. It’s also the first collaboration between the two giants of contemporary jazz since their 1986 Grammy Award-winning album Double Vision. However, rather than revisit that album's funk and smooth jazz leanings, here James and Sanborn summon the spirit of the legendary Dave Brubeck quartet featuring saxophonist Paul Desmond. While they don’t play any Brubeck songs, the album was recorded with Brubeck's adventurous, often challenging acoustic jazz spirit in mind. Sanborn also wanted to move away from the hemmed-in studio sound both artists were known for and investigate a live-in-studio approach that allowed for more unexpected improvisational situations. For his part, Sanborn benefits from the more freewheeling style and showcases an earthy, blues-oriented sax sound that brings to mind such influences as Hank Crawford and David "Fathead" Newman. Joining the duo are drummer Steve Gadd and bassist James Genus, whose compelling rhythmic choices and more than technically proficient chops are a perfect match for James and Sanborn. These are classy, no-nonsense songs that allow both of these jazz superstars to stretch themselves past what any existing fan might have thought of as their limit.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar