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Dean James: Intimacy

The sophomore album from saxophonist Dean James, Intimacy (Brajo D2-24901; 49:08) is for the most part virtually indistinguishable from the many solo sax efforts seeking a market share of the Kenny G-Richard Eliot-Warren Hill pie. Almost every track begins with a fluttery, typical intro of keyboard threads or sparkling waves of percussion, and arrangements like “Market Street” and the album’s title track are the same glossy stuff on nine out of ten newly-minted sax records. Now, this rant doesn’t minimize James’ talent: he plays long, melodic, sensitively wrought lines. The problem is uncovering that talent from arrangements so over-hyped (“Soon As I Come Home”) that you can barely hear James at all. A couple of notable exceptions to grow on: the offbeat “Samba for Re” is a clever, loping bass-based arrangement which gives James the opportunity for some sting; and the darker, more spacious “Monterey,” which finds James playing in short bursts spun off of Bobby Lyle’s piano fills.

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