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Everette Harp: For the Love

For the Love finds capable saxophonist Everette Harp caught in the same schizoid quandary as many of his contemporaries: giving listeners a glimpse of an authoritative talent by stretching out into rootsier styles, only to settle back into the typical synth-drenched ballads that overpopulate smooth-jazz airwaves. Into the first category falls material like the hopping, lively “Dancin’ With You,” featuring Doc Powell on guitar, and a warm, yet straightforward read of Stevie Wonder’s “Where Were You When I Needed You,” which is gentle and sweet without too much flutter or over-ornamentation. Best of all is the album’s most out-of-place track, a pumping, bluesy duet with Jeff Golub covering the Crusaders’ “Put It Where You Want It,” which brings raw soul better than any other offering here. The opposite end of the spectrum features labored pieces like “Love Conditionally,” and typical atmospheric conditions like “Miss Me With You” and “I Just Can’t Let Go.” Somewhere in the middle are the retro-funky, groove-driven (yet sparse) “So Automatic,” and open-toned urban “Right Back Atcha,” which dumps the gloss for more organic elements, proving that Harp does not need to rely on the synth conventions designed to mask or enhance lesser talents.

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