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Editorial Reviews

Review

Marion Meadows became one of smooth jazz's most popular saxmen of the last decade by being a constant purveyor of soprano sax-driven mush. With that in mind, it's exciting to see his growth during the course of his two latest recordings on Heads Up. Last year's Another Side of Midnight nailed his longstanding love for the free-spirited, late-night-club vibe of his former hometown, New York City. One aspect of his musical life in the Big Apple was jamming frequently with Latin and salsa bands. Meadows fashions his latest release, Next to You, around a rich fusion of those relatively exotic influences and his trademark Ramp;B-flavored sound.

The bouncy, synthesized trumpet/sax riff at the beginning of "Miami" is more festive than most of Meadows' usual fare. His smoky soprano winds in and out of dense percussion, splashes of horns, and a lively scat vocal and acoustic guitar interlude by Spyro Gyra's Julio Fernandez.

On the tracks he produced, veteran musician/producer Ray Obiedo brings loads of Latin fire to the mix with tunes like the plucky, easily percussive "Carousel," which features Meadows switching between soprano and alto saxes, and gentle flute harmonies by Norbert Stachel. The jamming Latin romp "Blue Cactus" spotlights a hard-wired Peter Escovedo on drums and sizzling sax/piano interplay between Meadows and keyboardist Peter Horvath. The disc's closer, Obiedo's "La Samba," is best described as Brazilian lite, but its polyrhythmic structure provides a challenge to Meadows' usual straightforward approach.

--- Jonathan Widran, JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc. -- From Jazziz

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