New-on-the-scene saxophonist Marcus H. Mitchell created one of the most memorable smooth-jazz singles in the past year with “Saturday Night,” a midtempo, shuffling groove that changed tempos, evoked different moods and displayed his skills on the horn. It didn’t hurt that it also boasted a Jeff Lorber Rhodes solo. But would the rest of the 23-year-old’s sophomore CD hold up? A clue emerged on the song following “Saturday Night”: “Summer Breeze.” No, not the Seals and Crofts chestnut, but an original. Good call. And while the chunky R&B beats of “Groove Lounge” and “Diamond in the Ruff” clearly show Mitchell has an eye toward radio, what sets them and the rest of the 11-track CD apart from similar urban-sax projects is Mitchell’s ear for melody and freshness on his instrument. Mitchell hones in on plenty of hooks, but also takes chances with extended solos.
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