Another Side of Midnight
Sometimes the big leaguers just need to be sent to the minors a bit to recover the strength and uniqueness in their game. After suffering several formulaic, overdressed releases on RCA and Sire, the talented saxophonist Marion Meadows has found an appropriate showcase for his range with the smaller label release, Another Side of Midnight (Heads Up International HUCD 3050; 47:08). With the focus at last on Meadows' captivating leads, ballads like "Sunrise" are rendered pretty and meditative, rather than sticky. The sax man shows his funk chops on the cornered, precise licks of the rubberband-bustling, "Club Life" in a staccato conversation with Tom Browne, and lilts in spacious, sinewy Latin lines for "A Secret Place." It also doesn't hurt that Meadows surrounds himself with an excellent supporting cast, including drummer Omar Hakim and guitarist Marc Antoine, whose gentle, worldly folk textures drive the beautiful and introspective "Sunset Moon."