1981's Navigator is the second solo album by woodwind player Paul McCandless, and like the first, it's not much of a departure from his better-known work with the fusion stalwarts Oregon. In front of a four-piece band featuring percussionist/vibraphonist David Samuels and guitarist Ross Traut (both of whom share composition chores), McCandless plays oboe, bass clarinet, English horn, and soprano saxophone lines that are too melodic to truly count as new age music, but aren't showboatingly complex enough to fit in with the chops-before-inspiration fusion crowd. The resulting music is unfailingly pleasant, but only occasionally, as on the haunting "Non-Navigator," with its spooky wordless ululations by vocalist Jay Clayton, does it feel truly inspired. Too often, as on Traut's "The Great Lawn," the proceedings are fine if tasty playing and a mellow mood are all one requires, but listeners wanting a deeper connection might find the album wanting.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason