Wainapel, a longtime resident of San Francisco, opens this album, his third, with "Beautiful Love." From his tenor saxophone solo, it's apparent that he favors a mature, take-your-time approach to improvisation a` la Scott Hamilton, Gene Ammons, or Clifford Jordan-with a touch of Lovanoesque modernity applied. This is his most distinctive and appealing horn. (He also plays soprano, alto, and clarinet on the date.)
Next comes "The Buzzard," a slow, bluesy original in a Ray Charles vein-Wainapel worked with the singer's band for 10 months-and there's more fine laid-back tenor. Several performances later, we get to Wayne Shorter's "Pinocchio," a burner that demonstrates that Wainapel is no slouch at uptempo. These three tracks sell me on the saxophonist, although I have no quibbles with the rest of the performances either. He picks good notes.
Kenny Barron appears on piano. (Wainapel's second album showcased Barron's compositions.) Larry Grenadier is on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums, with trumpeter Phil Grenadier added on three cuts. Barron's lines are impeccable, as usual. His sectionmates prove worthy company throughout.