Feb. 27, 2013
Veteran saxman Marion Meadows always brings a lot to the dance with his releases. Whisper is no different. Also being a digital designer/photographer and semi-pro cyclist begs the question: How can such a multi-faceted individual focus in such a meticulous fashion on all of his passions – to the point of being very well regarded in all of those respective circles? It’s nothing short of remarkable. Of course, my focus here, however, will be much more limited as I examine some more of his always magnetic music.
A man whose musical tastes are as much rooted in the music of the powerful pioneers of this genre (Miles, Coltrane, Ellington, Turrentine — to name a few) as they are in R&B and contemporary jazz , Meadows always manages to give us a little of many of the facets of his beloved music. Here on Whisper, he, of course, maintains that oh-so-melodic Meadows flavor that includes a touch of island and Latin influences as well as those jazz/R&B leanings.
Bouncing right out with the infectious groove of his lead track “The Visitor,” the saxman glides through some of his most enveloping music to date, including the title track and “Black Pearl” – the latter certainly being among my faves.
The native West Virginian summons a little help from his friends on this one (keyboardists Bob Baldwin, Michael Broening, and Rahni Song; flautists Althea Rene and Ragan Whiteside; and guitarist/keyboardist Carlo Pennis, among others). Talk about icing on the cake.
The material here is full of the Meadows musical diary of influences and style. Powerful, melodious, sensuous, and full of creative passion all at once.
There are so many tunes of note here from start to finish. One of many that stand out, “Bottoms Up,” features some great interplay between Meadows, Whiteside, and Baldwin. So delicate and charmingly precise. The tracks giving nods to Dave Grusin and Freddie Hubbard — “Marcosinho” and “Sky Dive,” respectively – each carry hypnotic charisma and, in the case of “Marcosinho,” irresistible rhythm and funk.
Here is, quite simply, another masterful effort from Meadows who has, throughout the years since and including his 1990 debut, continually worked his musical benevolence on jazz and R&B fans everywhere. – Ronald Jackson