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I wasn’t fond of Wynton’s first "with strings" session (Hot House Flowers, 1984) and I’m not overly enthusiastic over this second attempt either. Once again, Robert Freedman’s string arrangements add a hefty dose of sugar coating to a collection of very well known ballads. Marsalis is a masterful technician and his playing, as always, is clean, precise and faultless. Unfortunately, I also found it cold and passionless. As good as he is, his trumpet work lacks soul and fails to generate any real heat on this outing. The fine trio of Eric Reed (piano), Reginald Veal (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums) play a rather subservient role and their immense improvisational talents are never fully utilized. Tiresome, yet finely crafted, late-night mood music. Will sell like hot-cakes!
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.