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Ballads, Blues , Bebop and Beyond

Tony Campise

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Album Review

Tony Campise plays tenor, alto, baritone, and soprano sax; flute; bass clarinet — if they could retrofit a reed onto the diesel smokepipes of an 18-wheeler, he'd probably play that too. The Texan (primarily) tenor sax player is something of a local jazz legend, and no wonder; if jazz is like a religion, Campise is a perfect apostle. Ballads, Blues, Bebop & Beyond is his fourth release, featuring labelmates Joe LoCascio, Erich Avinger, and many of the same players from his last disc. Though this is primarily made up of standards, Campise again adds a few originals (including the boppin' "Foothills" and the atmospheric "Canyon of the Spirits"). The material moves around a lot, beginning with the startling simplicity of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," only to change direction with Miles Davis' "Teo" (featuring Dennis Dotson on trumpet) and a dizzying dual-guitar duel on John Coltrane's "Impressions." If that's not cool enough for you, the band's take on Charles Mingus' "Haitian Fight Song" oozes hipness out of its pores (Dotson is again a genuine asset). Campise is clearly comfortable in a variety of venues, a shapeshifting sax player who can cut the notes up into little pieces, stretch them over a small eternity, and make them cry on command. Those accolades aside, however, many listeners would rather hear a jazz great playing good music than a good jazz band playing great music, and the latter is ultimately the best description for Ballads, Blues, Bebop & Beyond. Still, Campise and his kind are keeping the flame alive, living proof that as long as jazz affects a few people strongly, artists will continue to pour their craft into its re-telling.

Biography

Born: 22 January 1943

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s

A bebop jazz tenor saxophonist from Texas, Campise has above-average musicality and command of his instrument. His interpretation of jazz standards...
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Ballads, Blues , Bebop and Beyond, Tony Campise
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