Alfonzo Blackwell: Reflections

On his fifth album, Reflections (Shanachie 5084; 49:44), Alfonso Blackwell displays a deft touch on soprano sax, whether he’s playing warm, weaving melodies or skittering across a bouncy riff. Unfortunately, the bulk of the arrangements and song selections here do him no favors, trying the listener’s patience with boring been-there-done-that urban grooves (“Next to You”) or silly contrivances like breathy “ooh-ah, give it to me” vocals (“That Feeling”). Standout tracks that do Blackwell’s horn-play justice include the gently reflective pop of “True Blue,” which also features some nice acoustic piano work, and a fun, hopping take on Miles Davis’ immortal “All Blues.” Set in an upbeat, contemporary cadence with a cool, swinging horn chorus as backup, this crafty arrangement gives Blackwell the opportunity to really sing out-and a great jumping-off place for future efforts.