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Album Review

Veteran jazz musicians like drummer Eddie Metz, Jr. encounter the same challenge all of the time, particularly when they play weekend jazz parties: the obvious aging of their audience. Although many older fans resist the playing of newer pop material, musicians have to find a way to draw new listeners to eventually replace older ones. So he recruited Italian pianist Rossano Sportiello and bassist Nicki Parrott, with fellow jazz party regulars John Allred (trombone) and Harry Allen (tenor sax) added on several tracks. There are plenty of great old standards: delightful, swinging trio settings of "Falling in Love with Love," "I'm Old Fashioned," "The More I See You," and a sublime "More Than You Know." Modern pop is represented by enjoyable interpretations ofStevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" and Steely Dan's "Bodhisattva" and a bossa nova setting of 1970s Italian pop singer Gino Vannelli's "Crazy Life," featuring Allred carrying the melody, while Parrott sings "One Less Bell to Answer," a hit decades earlier for the 5th Dimension. Metz penned the understated "NER Blues," which will be immediately recognized by any seasoned jazz fan as a tribute to Count Basie, while the full quintet is heard in the sassy "Huggin' Higgins," a peppy salute to veteran pianist Eddie Higgins, another jazz party regular who crosses paths with the rest of the band on occasion. Metz has done his part to bridge the generation gap among jazz fans; now it is up to the listeners to take the first step across it.

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