At first you enjoy Bradley Leighton’s Back To The Funk, then the songs all start blending together and become indistinguishable from one another. These would be great tunes for an elevator ride or while waiting for your plane to leave the tarmac but not for an entire album. The second track "Flow" sounds a lot like the first cut "Runaway," only slowed down. It is a little more ethereal and sounds very much like the music they pair with those nature CDs that help you to relax.
The CD cover lists Scott Kyle (trombone), John Rekevics (tenor, baritone and alto sax), Evan Marks (guitars), Brad Steinwehe (trumpet), drummer Duncan Moore, bassist Cecil McBee, Alan Phillips (keys percussion, piano) and, of course, Leighton on alto flute. The horns are so subdued one wonders if they were really necessary and the guitars are used sparingly. It appears that Leighton and co-writer/arranger/composer Phillips could have recorded this CD with the flute, a drum kit and a keyboard. Marks’ brief guitar solo during "Clear Blue Skies" is minimalist and the primary function appears to be to serve as a bridge.
The first arrangement to show some imagination is Ray, Goodman and Walter’s "Special Lady," where the saxophones gain more prominence. The stronger accompaniment provides texture to the music and the cooler melody is a better frame for the flautist’s notes. The CD then slides right back into a Phillips/Leighton original "Sunday In San Diego," which sounds very similar to their first five compositions from "Back To The Funk." David Gates’ 1970 hit song "Make It With You" is presented nicely by Leighton and the song is a tribute to the great tunes composed by the primary songwriter for Bread.
I am not a flautist, so I cannot comment on Leighton’s musicianship except to say he sounds good. The greatest drawback to the CD is simply in the unimaginative arrangements. The three borrowed pieces on this album, "Love Light In Flight," "Make It With You" and "Special Lady," seem to suggest that songwriting and arranging are not the strengths of Phillips and Leighton and their musicianship is served better with the songs of others.