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This is an MJQ album that, for most fans, is somewhat off the beaten path. At a time when they had left Apple Records to return to Atlantic, and when fusion was just getting started, the group incorporate more Brazilian music in the mix, and John Lewis plays Fender Rhodes electric piano on two tracks. While their laid-back, mellow, chamber-like sound is very much intact, the rules of sonic preparation had changed, and the band followed in kind. Drummer Connie Kay even adds a bit of R&B funk to the proceedings, as on the chunky opener and title track, which is very atypical for the group. One of two Lewis originals, "Valeria" is a light bossa nova, energized as it goes along, while the absolute beauty of "Romance" is marinated in waltz pace with accenting cymbal zings -- the perfect candlelight-and-wine dinner music. Milt Jackson's work on vibes never wavered over the years since his early bop days in Detroit, and he sounds as good as ever throughout the proceedings. The tracks where Lewis plays Rhodes include a long, tender, Latin-flavored version of Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses" in as foggy a mood as possible, and the shimmering ballad of Jackson's "The Martyr," where Kay's overtly cascading bells turn the piece completely atmospheric. Covering the pop song "What Now My Love?," in demure shades of late-night Rio, is in their comfort zone, but it's not the most substantive tune they have ever interpreted. Not an essential item in their catalog, this is reserved strictly for completists.
|Label:||Wounded Bird Records|