Absolute Greatest Love Songs & Ballads (1981-1998)
A does-it-all composer/artist/ producer way ahead of his time, Alphonse Mouzon has selected his Absolute Greatest Love Songs & Ballads (1981-1998) (Tenacious Tenac 9212-2; 75:14) from nine albums of original material. While we probably could have done without the recorded introduction (which would not have appeared nearly as smug in the written liner notes), the collection is an interesting document of Mouzon's phases as a keyboardist and arranger. Mouzon's early '80s melded orchestral arrangements with acoustic elements ("Morning Sun," "Lullabye for Little Alphonse,"), his later '80s delved further into the acoustic (the lovely "Alone in Paris") and the '90s have tended more towards layers of synthesizer-some elegant, some syrupy. Even in the thicker arrangements, Mouzon has always had a good ear for melody and an ability to pull in great supporting players. Gary Meek's tender soprano sax on 1990's "Obsession," and Eric Marienthal's jumping alto on 1996's tough and funky "What Are You Doing Later On" are sparkling highlights. Two new tunes, offered as a "preview" to Mouzon's upcoming release, Smooth as Silk, suffer by comparison, offering more typically puffy production and less of Mouzon's typically tenacious originality.