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Warren Hill: Shelter

Saxophonist Warren Hill’s Shelter (Warner/Discovery 77058 P; 55:03) contains a few unexpected detours from his commercially successful, middle-of-the-road material. Some of these surprises bolster his stock-soulful, bubbly arrangements on “Subway Slam,” with its bustling horn chorale, and “Wanna Believe” give Hill room to demonstrate some hard-cornered, (dare I say) Sanborn-esque chops. Tricky timing on these funkier pieces, including the heady-paced “Marathon Man” demonstrate his ability to effectively layer jazz technique with rock & soul elements. The other major new twist here is Hill’s vocalising-a wispy tenor which does very little to augment sappier songs like “Shelter from the Storm” (not the Bob Dylan tune, but a Hill original). Hill does write catchy melodies, but it would take a vocalist with a little more Richard Marx-ish personality to pull off the dramatic power-pop ballad feel he’s clearly going for. As on past Hill efforts, there are gooily romantic synthesizer ballads to spare-but Shelter does occasionally show the more adventurous side of this saxophone idol.

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