Sapphron Obois


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While new smooth jazz saxmen pop up with stunning frequency, the female horn contingent through the '90s has only been able to boast of Candy Dulfer and Pamela Williams. Time will tell if Sapphron Obois will prove a worthy opponent, but her easy-going-down debut puts her right in the mainstream pocket -- even if she's slightly less funky than Dulfer and a not quite as soulful as Williams. No doubt mindful of the marketing game, Sapphron creates appealing, straightforward melodies that seem tailor-made for radio but also play it close to the vest, stopping short of anything too innovative even when she seems on the verge. On the closing cut, "Nairobi Nights," she delves into worldbeat by complementing her jumpy soprano melody with a cheerful African chant-but could have made the groove way more exotic and percussive. On other tracks, she tries some unique experiments, but they only last for a handful of bars. In the middle of the gentle funk of "I've Been Calling You," she briefly weaves an off meter lead line in and out of a series of fuzzy, percussive brass accents created by mixing her soprano and alto. And just as quickly, she's back to the middle of the road. "Never Say Never" features cool and unusual wah-wah guitar effects and spacy synth harmonies, and briefly finds her improvising deeper than a typical smooth jazz tune calls for.

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