In a way, tenor saxophonist John Klemmer was twenty years ahead of his time. Klemmer was popular and prolific from the mid-seventies through the early eighties with a series of sensual, syrupy albums that were perfect for mellowing out or making out. They made the perfect aural backdrop for candlelight dinners, bubble baths, or snuggling by the fire. The "smooth jazz" format was made for material such as this. (Prior to his 1975 breakout album,Touch
, Klemmer was into much more sound-heavy, intense, Coltrane-inspired jazz.) But after a string of successful albums, plus two courageous solo tenor sax albums, Klemmer had played the genre for all it was worth and dropped off the scene.
Now he's back, and he's pretty much picked up where he left off. The CD's title,Making Love
, says it all. Klemmer tries, almost too hard, to create a "relaxing, intimate and inspiring repeated listening experience" (quoting from the back cover). Sorry, but I could hardly make it through the CD once. The music contained herein is fine in short doses, but this CD is seventy minutes of the same thing! I cannot recall a more narrow, one-dimensional program. The basic formula is this: each song is mostly a two-chord vamp, over which Klemmer states a simple melody, then solos long enough to explore every possible hook and cranny, then wraps it up by restating the melody. Curiously, a track of pouring rain and light thunder runs the entire length of the CD, although it tends to disappear far into the background during the songs and emerge during the segues between each tune.
To his credit, Klemmer possesses a rich, seductive tone on his tenor sax, and he has devoted a lot of time and care to the background arrangements. As with his seventies albums, his sax is still hooked up to an echoplex to add to the depth and occasionally create self-harmonization on the runs. Klemmer is also credited for electronic effects, synthesizer, keyboards, and narration (fortunately, only on the title tune). The guitar, bass, and percussion (if they are actually live) are uncredited.