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Record Review - 1 July 21 2005

Although not affiliated with the recent movie, Closer, alto-saxist David Sanborn's 20th solo release, shares some distinctive qualities with the film. As with the flick's characters, there is tension and mystery lurking beneath the album's suspiciously calm surface. He also adds a tough, slightly skewed quality to his musical love affairs, usually submerged under a lipstick-styled sheen.

Often incorrectly lumped in with such soulless hacks as Kenny G. and Dave Koz, Sanborn got his start in an early edition of the Butterfield Blues Band and by backing David Bowie as well as blues legend Albert King. Consequently, he knows raw intensity, even when covering such romantic warhorses as "Smile," "You Must Believe in Spring," and James Taylor's smarmy "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight."

With a raspy R&B quality as sexy as it is insidious, Sanborn slides into tropicalia on about a third of these tracks, bringing a taut edge to vibrant versions of Horace Silver's "Enchantment" and the classic "Senor Blues."

By working with fusion pros Mike Mainieri on vibes, bassist Christian McBride and ubiquitous drummer Steve Gadd, Sanborn keeps the sound lean - if not exactly mean - and creates an undertow of blues and soul.

Filled with style, substance, sensuality and subtlety, Closer is a multilayered album that, like the film's disreputable protagonists, is deeper, darker and more subversive than it initially seems.

David Sanborn plays Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre Thurs., July 22, 8 p.m. $15-$36. 5239 Floyd Road, Mableton. 404-249-6400. www.mablehouseamphitheatre.com.??