A set of nothing but ballads might become tedious in the wrong hands, but tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker's sterling arrangements and thoughtful lines allow the music to flow with undeniable grace a

A set of nothing but ballads might become tedious in the wrong hands, but tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker's sterling arrangements and thoughtful lines allow the music to flow with undeniable grace and vibrancy. It does not hurt that the saxophonist is joined by perhaps the ultimate textural dream band—guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Herbie Hancock, and drummer Jack DeJohnette. All are more than seasoned improvisers—these are musicians who react to the music around them with the utmost tenderness, filling both standards and original compositions by Brecker, Metheny, and Hancock with a plethora of harmonic and melodic possibilities. Singer/songwriter James Taylor guests on two tracks, including a jazz take on his own "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" (returning a favor, as Brecker soloed on Taylor's original 1972 recording), adding his voice to a project already filled with considerable allure.—SG

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