Kim Waters: Love’s Melody

Kim Waters is one of the better saxophonists on the modern scene, with a laid-back, effortlessly expressive style light-years from the heavy-handed over-ornamentation of many of his contemporaries. Unfortunately, like so many sax-wielders, Waters’ work tends to be hidden behind the glossy curtains of contemporary R&B production clich s, like overused drum loops and synthesizers. However, Waters’ latest, Love’s Melody (Shanachie 5042; 58:02 ) comes across as a good step in the right direction. Waters has enlisted producer Chuck Loeb’s assistance this time ’round, and his fingerprints show on some of the album’s more elegant urban arrangements, like “Nightfall.” Unlike some past efforts, many of these tunes effectively spotlight Waters’ strengths-“95 North,” for example, with its off kilter feel and long-lined horn harmonies and the fluegelhorn duet moments on “Let’s Do This.” However, heavy-handed arrangements like the slippery slick background and pulsing synth strings on “Midnight at the Oasis” still detract from Waters’ understated, melodic play, showing that there’s still room to grow.