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Brave New World: Worldwind

Don’t be deceived by the name Brave New World – the duo of pianist Chuck Henry and saxophonist Todd Nystrom boasts nary an eccentric or experimental bone. Their Worldwind (Ichiban International/Brajo Records D2 24962-2; 56:40) is pop-hooky TV movie soundtrack stuff-at its best, straightforward and listenable, and at its worst, overarranged and sentimental. Into the former category fall tunes like album-opener “The Way to Your Heart,” which boasts a catchy hook and Henry’s jolly piano rolls sparking the choruses-but verses which are labored by dull drum programming and repetitive alto riffs. Henry’s wandering, light-fingered piano work also highlights a sanitized, sped-up read of “Holding Back the Years”-one of the better aching ballads of the ’80s. Extra effects often kill decent melodies here-as on “Deep Down” and “Buttermilk Sky,” which just doesn’t go anywhere with a promising hook of prickly, cascading guitar. “Strawberry Lane” highlights some of the difficulties here – its pumping effects are clearly meant to echo the Beatles’ immortal “Strawberry Fields Forever”-but this confection is pure fluff, without a bit of nostalgia, cynicism or other emotion to ground it. Like many of the other tunes on Worldwind-it’s pleasant and upbeat, but just doesn’t grab hold.

Originally Published