Oliver Lake had just celebrated his 61st birthday when, in September 2003, he finished recording Dat Love -- not exactly in his adolescence, but thankfully time hasn't robbed the saxophonist of either his chops or his risk-taking spirit. Lake is still open to trying new things, and this CD finds him leading an unusual group that has been billed as the Oliver Lake Steel Quartet since its formation in 1998. The group is so-named because it includes a steel pan player; the lineup consists of Lake on alto and soprano sax, Lyndon Achee on steel pan, Reggie Washington on electric bass, and Damon Duewhite on drums -- an unlikely combination of instruments, certainly, but one that yields fresh-sounding results on Lake's own compositions as well as arrangements of Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments," Horace Silver's "Señor Blues," and the Mary J. Blige/Stevie Wonder song "Time" (which works nicely as instrumental jazz and underscores the fact that jazz musicians cheat themselves when they refuse to interpret R&B songs). Achee isn't the first person to approach the Afro-Caribbean steel pan as a jazz instrument -- Andy Narell recorded his first album, Hidden Treasure, for Inner City Records in 1979 -- but he has a recognizable sound of his own and helps give the Steel Quartet much of their freshness. Despite Lake's history as an avant-garde player, Dat Love isn't terribly avant-garde or abstract -- actually, the melodic performances are fairly accessible, and this CD is best described as either advanced post-bop or Afro-Caribbean jazz (with hints of funk and soul at times). A consistently rewarding addition to Lake's catalog, Dat Love demonstrates that accessibility and a sense of adventure aren't mutually exclusive for the veteran improviser.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson