Benny Reid: Findings

Findings, alto saxophonist Benny Reid’s debut as a leader, is a soft and relaxing 53 minutes that avoids being pejoratively smooth. It has, at times, a vaguely Caribbean feel, owing to the presence of Richard Padron’s light touch on the guitar, Aaron Goldberg’s light touch on the acoustic and electric pianos, and Jeff Taylor’s light and airy wordless vocals. (Notice a trend?) What we end up with is a nice album but certainly not a great one.

At 26, Reid is a capable musician-he can play his instrument, and he solos through virtually the entire album. But quantity does not equal quality, and it turns out that Reid doesn’t have much to say. His lines are fluid and clean, but he rarely strays far beyond the scales, and he doesn’t stretch -doesn’t play anything unexpected, doesn’t employ contrast, doesn’t take chances, and doesn’t dare to offend or risk making anyone uncomfortable. He does experiment with odd signatures-“Transient Melody” is in 6/8, “Waves of Red” in 5/4 and “Dancing With My Father” in 7/8-but a certain sameness pervades his six tunes. The opener, “Destiny?”, shifts tempo a few times, but that’s as adventurous as Findings gets.