[8 September 2006]
My first exposure to Marion Meadows was his contribution to a jazz sampler distributed by one of those mail-order clubs (“Get 800 CDs for a penny!”). I didn’t send the sampler back in time and got stuck with it. That was one of the best CDs I never meant to purchase, because Marion Meadows has a way of making magic with his sax. A maestro of the soprano, alto, and tenor saxes, his new CD, Dressed to Chill, finds Meadows once again collaborating with keyboardist and producer Michael Broening to bring listeners a mixture of musical textures and moods. Though you might not know it from the album title, Marion Meadows is one cool musician, as evidenced by: the funky, up-tempo title track; the deliciously titled and orchestrated “Coco Flow”; the catchy “Remember Me”; and the touching “Dance With My Daughter”. Vocal performances by Will Brock on “Miss Know It All” and Caji Da Bahia on “1000 Dreams” keep things fresh. Michael Broening’s mastery of the piano also shines on “1000 Dreams”, while Meadows plays bass clarinet on “To Love Her”. One of the album’s interesting musical numbers is “Scent of a Woman”, with its refreshing infusion of exotic rhythms and soundscapes. The only problem with the set is Meadows’s cover of “I Believe I Can Fly”. Despite being well executed—and despite lush backgrounds by Vanessa Williams, Lori Williams, and Raymond Reeder—the R. Kelly tune has probably reached its saturation point. However, the other 11 songs on the 12 song collection are exquisite.