Picks and Pans Review: Put Sunshine in It

UPDATED 03/04/1985 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/04/1985 at 01:00 AM EST

Arthur Blythe

You can't blame a jazz musician for wanting to make some money. Just don't accuse him of changing his tack because he wants to make some money. If anyone is above that kind of reproach it's alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe, who has been on the cutting edge of jazz for most of the last decade. His sax-tuba-cello trio, for example, was one of the more interesting recent wrinkles in instrumentation. With Put Sunshine in It he appears to be muscling in on David Sanborn and Grover Washington Jr.'s feel-good pop-jazz sax territory. The most immediate thing recommending Blythe is his sheer sound. While Sanborn's aggressive bite always sounds the same and Washington prettifies you to death, Blythe's tone is both assertive and lush. In fact, he has rarely sounded as round and openly melodious as he does here. That is a treat for his fans, some of whom have been bothered by his occasional tendency to bleat. Jazz purists may be put off by the simplicity of Blythe's solos, until they realize that is the point. The backgrounds are nothing particularly new, simply bright, flowing dance and funk beats attractively fleshed out with the sounds of percussion and synthesizers. But they serve Blythe well, especially on Uptown Strut and #5. Blythe's creative drive will probably prevent him from taking up permanent residence on this middlebrow block. Even so, if you're inclined to this kind of style, the new kid does have something to say. (Columbia)

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