The more passionate fans of saxophonist Branford Marsalis might be disappointed with 'Upward Spiral' (Marsalis Music/Okeh Records) because this could be construed as a Kurt Elling vocalese CD with the quartet merely backing him up. Elling achieves a strong Chet Baker nodding-out-on-heroin style, true, and Branford is still one of today's greats, but the news of a new Branford was more exciting than actually listening to the new Branford.
David Sanborn has followed up his terrific Quartette Humaine (2013) with a funky slice of throwaway pop and soul. Not that this, his 25th album as a leader, doesn't have its pleasures, but you'd think his deep satisfying alto tone would grace less populist fare. Sure, ex-Tower Of Power singer Larry Braggs does the 1972 Al Green version of "Can't Get Next To You" proud and loud (a #1 for The Temptations in 1969). Plus, Randy Crawford absolutely nails the Dusty Springfield version of "Windmills Of Your Mind" from the 1968 original and 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. Still, most of Time Of The River has that dentist office waiting room feel.