Danny Lerman is one of those rare debut artists who wants to write a complete autobiography of all the genres that have influenced him, and as a result, the saxophonist's invitation to the crazy and joyously scattershot Danny's Island is hard to resist. He clues us in on his Sanborn affinity with some aggressive alto doubling on the hook of the blues-funk party "Boris the Cat" before tipping the scales towards melodic sentimentality on the Boney James-like "You Take My Breath Away." He then honks and slides around the rolling flamenco guitar harmonies of the always welcome Fareed Haque on the castanet-fueled clapalong "Black Orpheus," creating inspired cantina imagery which is complemented by the even more festive, brassy title track; here, backed by a jumpy bass groove straight out of the Paul Simon Graceland sound, Lerman engages in a playful conversation with flutist Dave Valentin on the lead melody as a two-piece horn section stands on guard to burst in with colorful harmonies any minute. Lerman's interests aren't limited to music, either, as the creepy, trip-hoppy "Dracula's Castle" sounds like a soundtrack piece from The X-Files. He also does a clever time traveling thing on the wacky, off meter version of the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin'" which features a spaced out David Garfield keyboard solo, turntable scratches, and a relentless hip-hop and industrial percussion groove. One of the most provocative jams of the year, Danny's Island is the kind of eclectic project too few smooth jazz artists dare to make.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran