The nighttime is the theme for tenor saxophonist Don Braden's third Criss Cross release. On After Dark, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Carl Allen remain from Braden's previous two releases. They are joined by trumpeter Scott Wendholt, alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, trombonist Noah Bless, and pianist Darrell Grant to perform five originals, two standards, one jazz classic, and one pop song, Stevie Wonder's "Creepin'," arranged for septet. As with his previous recording, Braden's composing and arranging skills are the focus of the recording. Compositions such as the title track, "R.E.M.," and "Dawn" feature the septet and are characterized by Braden's harmonic imagination, challenging melodies, and sense of swing. But Braden is also a player, his distinctive sound and improvisational ideas displayed on "Night," an up-tempo version of "You and the Night and the Music" and Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Dream." This recording is one of 1994's best releases and a positive step in Braden's rapid development.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Turner