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Alfonzo Blackwell: Alfonzo Blackwell

Saxophonist Alfonzo Blackwell is clearly a major talent, in both jumping funk/jazz and emotive, long-lined ballad mode. On his self-titled album (Street Life 72392 75509-2; 57:53) we are treated to some excellent displays of that talent, but also saddled with a few throwaway, commercialized wastes of his gifts. Where his lovely, restrained read of the Seal hit “Kiss from a Rose” is a striking showcase of multilayered sax effects, “Anything Worth Having” is a high-gloss, glittery cliché (despite some strong vocals by Valerie Pinkston-Mayo). When Blackwell plays to his jazz instincts, sliding, squeaking and fluttering through an invigorating read of the classic “Killer Joe,” and vamping through the funky “Keep it Right There” with Omar Hakim, you can’t help but wonder why he would want to cover a recent Mariah Carey hit (“One Sweet Day”). Blackwell’s instincts even keep his “Baywatch Nights Theme” (!) a dark, percussive-edged mood piece about as far removed from the cheesy content of the TV show as possible.

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