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World Saxophone Quartet: 25th Anniversary: The New Chapter

David Murray’s “Suki Suki Now,” a joyful slice of surging R&B on Murray’s recent Like a Kiss That Never Ends, also opens the World Saxophone Quartet’s 25th Anniversary CD, where it sounds fussy and flaccid in comparison. The WSQ disc is disappointing, especially after the success of last year’s Requiem for Julius, where the group seemed to have recaptured some of the zip, grit and sharp focus of its mid-’80s peak. Those qualities have vanished here, replaced by an immaculate yet constricting elegance in which the extremes of language that Murray employs to such exciting effect on his own disc have been refined into a set of mannered gestures (chief culprit: “The New Chapter”). There are some nice moments, notably the knotty, affecting lyricism of Oliver Lake’s brief “Netdown” and Murray’s beautifully understated arrangement of “Goin’ Home,” but mostly it’s a case of art giving way to artifice. This may be the new chapter, but the WSQ seem, at least temporarily, to have lost the plot.

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