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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

Saxophonist Invites You To Revisit 'A Summer Place'

Sony Classical

Before August gets away from us, saxophonist Amy Dickson’s new album arrives this month to celebrate classic melodies of the summer, most of them from films of the 1950s and ‘60s. Dickson’s previous albums have straddled both the classical world and popular music. On “A Summer Place,” Dickson fully immerses herself in the easy-listening pool, and while the results are mixed, there are moments of sunshine.

The old war horse “A Summer Place” opens the album on a familiar note. It’s one of Max Steiner’s most enduring melodies, but it’s also hemmed in by its limp arrangement, hewing close to the Percy Faith original. Dickson doesn’t get to do much until the second track, “Windmills of Your Mind” by Michel Legrand, whose equally haunting “Summer of ’42” theme also graces the album. Both songs swing into minor key territory, lending an air of melancholy to remembrances of summers past.

Less successful is a Latin-flavored version of “Take Five,” which sucks the life out of the song by placing half of it in 4/4 time, and “The Sounds of Silence,” which is somewhat awkward in its breeziness here, closing the album on an odd note.

Dickson alternates throughout the release between soprano and alto saxophones. In general I preferred the fuller sound of the alto here, which Dickson plays with just enough vibrato, warmth and grace.

As a whole, "A Summer Place" is hit and miss, but there are select tracks here that will reward listeners regardless of the season -- start with "Summer of '42," and the soaring melodrama of "The Apartment." Leave the title track behind, unless you like your summers sweeter than a raspa topped with whipped cream.