Spencer Brewer

Torches on the Lake

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Drawing on the influence of artists ranging from Spyro Gyra and the Yellowjackets to Pat Metheny, pianist/keyboardist Spencer Brewer and reedman Paul McCandless (of Oregon fame) deliver a pop-jazz/crossover CD that occasionally sounds contrived but is generally creative and likable. "Santa Fe" is pretty lightweight, but the musicians/composers sound a lot more inspired on the groovin' "Hip-Hop," the pensive "Valentine Be Mine" and the Metheny-ish "Wishes Come True." One tune that tests their integrity is the Beatles' "Come Together" -- a lot of NAC artists would have put us to sleep with a boring note-for-note cover, but Brewer and McCandless (who is heard on soprano and tenor sax as well as oboe and English horn) dig in and do some actual interpreting. Not magnificent but generally tasteful, this CD demonstrated that smooth jazz doesn't have to be devoid of creativity.

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