Nelson Rangell: Turning Night Into Day

With his cinematic hooks and muscular, emotive play on the alto sax, Nelson Rangell is one of the true romantics of contemporary jazz. His Turning Night Into Day (GRP GRD-9864; 65:24) calls upon some formats that might fall flat in less sincere hands. “Starting Now” boasts an almost ’70s-recalling swagger in the heavy keyboard, and a synth string arrangement reminiscent of “Manhattan Skyline” in Saturday Night Fever; and “From Spark to Flame” uses a throwback orchestral opening for a dreamy ambiance. Rangell digs in and carves out soulful spirals and licks on “Godzilla” as well, and manages to inject emotion into some of the more typical, synthy tracks like “For the Rest of My Life.” The best pieces are the most unusual, however- “The Journey” finds Rangell’s gently whistling piccolo talking with Howard Levy’s gruffer harmonica in a colorful, polyrhythmic setting. The disarming “April Snow” is Rangell at his pure, romantic best, piping a sweet, minimally arranged melody on his seamless flute.