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Braxton Brothers: Both Sides

Another set of siblings, the Braxton Brothers, play Both Sides (Peak Records) of urban jazz, from ripping, stinging soul workouts to wimpy overdressed retreads. Standouts in the former category include “Whenever I See You,” rendered breezy and funky by brother Wayne’s hot sax-harmony refrains and Nelson’s catchy, angular bass lead. Another highlight, “Do What You Feel,” offers offbeat, pumping bass paralleling the sax for a springy, dynamic effect. Many similarly interesting elements are present in the unfortunate tracks falling into the second category-they’re just overshadowed by needless genre contrivances. For example, Nelson lays down a terrific soul-deep bass line to counter sweeping strings on “What Did I Say,” but the overstylized vocal histrionics of Seabron Sawyer end up dominating. Ringing keyboards and breathy vocals are similarly prominent on such tunes as “Back 2 Love” and “Better Than Nothing?” A different direction entirely surfaces on “If You Love Me,” with a warm acoustic-guitar center giving way to Wayne’s sweetly meandering alto. The effect of this arrangement is infinitely more romantic than a labored mood created by endlessly repeated, whispered phrases and gobs of keyboard.

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