VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
24 APR 08 JONATHAN WIDRAN
The title of Marion Meadows' most recent Heads Up release Dressed To Chill is sharply appropriate considering that the veteran saxophonist has long been one of smooth jazz's most stylish performers.
At festivals, clubs, winery dates and at sea aboard some of the genre's popular all-star cruises, Meadows is the dapper Dan onstage flipping those cool dreadlocks and wearing snappy suits and close fitting T-shirts that -- much to the delight of his thousands of shrieking female fans -- hug a muscular body sculpted by hours on the road as a semi-pro bicyclist in his adopted home in Phoenix. Meadows belonged to a Scottsdale based team called Bicycle Ranch, which competed at races in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Utah. Most of the races were 70-100 miles long.
As on his previous two label recordings In Deep and Player's Club, one of Meadows' secret creative weapons on Dressed To Chill was his exciting melodic and groove intensive collaboration with another Phoenix based musician, keyboardist Michael Broening, a founding member of the popular fusion band Turning Point. The West Virginia born, Connecticut bred saxophonist first met Broening when they worked with popular Phoenix singer Khani Cole.
Highlights that will leave you chillin' with this popular disc include the up-tempo title track; the understated, soprano and tenor driven "Remember Me" (featuring guitarist Chuck Loeb); the Spanish vibin' "Scent Of A Woman"; Meadows' use of bass clarinet on the atmospheric "To Love Her"; and a lush cover of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly."