Picks and Pans Review: Blythe, the Most Gifted Alto Saxman to Emerge from the Defiant Avant-Garde Scene of the '70s, Brings a Tremulous Swagger to Freeman's "luna," Directing a Darkly Enchanting Melody Heavenward with a Wolfen Howl. Lightsey's "donkey Dus

updated 04/03/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/03/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

evokes the melodic magic of Charles Mingus. Freeman, whose talents on the tenor sax have long been underrated, shines as a soloist on "Portraits," and as the album producer, bears primary responsibility for transforming a loose confederation of potential blowhards into a tight ensemble unit. For a finale, Bowie tips his hat to Louis Armstrong in a rendition of David Durrah's "Loves I Once Knew," bending the melody just enough to serve as a reminder that this group is hip to tradition without being captive to it. Jazz fans who have been put off by the shock of the new would do well to follow the Leaders back to the future. (Black Saint)

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