David Mann


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Some bop snobs claim that people in the NAC/pop-jazz field are playing unchallenging music because they don't have chops, but that isn't true -- a lot of NAC musicians do have chops and they aren't afraid to improvise when they take it to the stage. Unfortunately, they aren't nearly as risk taking in the studio, where they avoid improvisation because they don't want to frighten away rigid NAC radio programmers. David Mann, for example, is a capable saxman whose influences include Grover Washington, Jr. and David Sanborn. But he plays it much too safe on Touch, which was obviously recorded with NAC radio in mind. Most of the time, Mann favors an unchallenging, innocuous blend of pop, R&B, and jazz -- and there is precious little evidence of his skills as an improviser. Nonetheless, this overproduced CD has its moments. Mann (who is heard on tenor, alto, and soprano sax as well as flute and keyboards) lets loose on the funky "Kinetic," and singer Catte Adams has a pleasant spot on "Love Is a Curious Thing" (a gentle quiet storm tune and Touch's only vocal offering). Much of the time, Mann sounds like he is content to fade into the background, which is regrettable because -- like so many NAC artists -- he is capable of a lot more.

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