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The Cambell Brothers: From Square 1

With a free-wheeling, harmonizing double saxophone lead and a propensity for upbeat tunes, The Campbell Brothers’ From Square 1 (Marquis 7-1001-2; 60:39) should be much more fun than it turns out to be. Part of the problem is reverb-heavy production, which gives sweet, catchy tunes like “T-Squared” a tinny quality, but stiff keyboard atmospheres are the greatest culprit. Sax-wielding brothers Alex and Garland throw a nicely harmonized melody at a cold background on “Seaside Groovin’,” and swing out and squeal on a sleeker cover of “Respect,” only to be undone by overly precious, pointless vocals. Even a cover of Grover Washington, Jr.’s signature “East River Drive” comes across cold despite Alex and Garland’s best efforts to breathe life. Much better are the looser “Mr. C’s,” with its sly double-tenor harmonies and “No Ghetto Blues,” which allows the boys to lighten up and have some fun within the context of a classic blues progression.

Originally Published