Walter Beasley: Won’t You Let Me Love You

Saxophonist Walter Beasley steps forward with an authoritative, joyful voice on Won’t You Let Me Love You (Shanachie 5071; 42:50), shedding many of the light R&B cliched over-arrangements that grounded past work, and letting his skills speak for themselves. Beasley captures funky, sparkling moods on the fizzy, guitar-propelled “Theresa” (which purposely evokes the theme from TV’s Taxi), and warm, celebratory “Tan Tam,” which features Beasley’s cornered, blues-tinged melody. Among the album’s many highlights is a nice, lumbering mid-clip groove on “Baby Girl,” lightly arranged to best showcase Beasley’s elegant, understated play. Although some of the goopy keyboard residue remains on “I Wanna Know,” the arrangement cracks open to feature the sax man’s sinewy, romantic piping. Beasley also surprises by stepping into the more complex territory of Stevie Wonder’s “Visions,” in which he sings in a light, competent tenor. The pretty arrangement, accented by acoustic tones on both guitar and bass, evokes genuine pathos, lifting Beasley to a new emotional plane.