This is the second World Saxophone Quartet disc to feature alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe (who replaced Julius Hemphill) and the first to feature a full rhythm section including bass, piano, and organ. Going a step further from the previous year's experiment with African drums on Metamorphosis, Breath of Life continues to find the sax quartet stretching the boundaries associated with its a cappella approach of the past. Included on its final release for the Elektra Nonesuch label are rhythm & blues-influenced originals by David Murray, Oliver Lake, and Hamiet Bluiett. The Quartet also pays tribute to Ray Charles, Little Willie John, and James Brown on "You Don't Know Me" and "Suffering With the Blues," featuring gospel-inspired performances by Fontella Bass (vocals), Donald Smith (organ), and Amina Claudine Myers (piano and organ).
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AllMusic Review by Al Campbell