Don't let the pleasant-pop hooks and plentiful keyboards fool you-saxophonist Danny Lerman has surprises in reserve that help Danny's Island (MagMile/Chartmaker Jazz PDP 1110; 59:27) emerge from the sea of pretentious pretenders. Just when you think things are settling in to a conventional mode, Lerman throws a curve with a unique element. "You Take My Breath Away," for example, begins like a thousand synth ballads before, but Lerman's lithe soprano duet with Maxx Frank on acoustic piano give it just the right resonant touch (a vocal version is considerably weaker by comparison). Similarly, the multi-tracked soprano sax lines on the atmospheric "Eliat" lends a romantic feel. A unique cover of the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin'" proves a surprise treat, as Lerman transforms the rock chestnut into an electronic hip-bop romp, belting a soulful lead.
This Island boasts other treasures as well, including a stomping, clapping flamenco whirl on "Black Orpheus," and the Caribbean-on-speed title track.