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Album Review

To anyone lost in the confusion of the contemporary jazz scene, Ruby Braff's warm, traditional sounds are a rare comfort. As soon as Braff's cornet joins Bill Charlap's piano on the opening bars of the title track, the listener knows this music is going to be fun. For the next 11 minutes Braff, Charlap, saxophonist Tommy Newsom, and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli take turns offering joyous solos. "Chicago Medley," comprised of "Chicago" and "My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)," unwinds at a leisurely pace for nearly 14 minutes. Pizzarelli kicks off "(I Would Do) Anything for You" with a rapid handful of chords before the rest of the band jumps in for seven minutes of brisk, bouncy lead work. Charlap solos first with his quick, light touch, exuding an airy bliss that lays down a challenge for the other players. They each match it in kind before bringing the tune to completion in a Dixieland flurry. Both Braff and Newsom radiate lots of soul on numbers like "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?," while drummer Tony DeNicola and bassist John Beal provide an unfailing bottom end. Only "We're All Through" varies the setup by adding vocalist Daryl Sherman. Her warm vocals fit nicely into the setting, helping to close this very satisfying album on a relaxed note. With I Hear Music, Ruby Braff and friends continue to infuse excitement and pizzazz into traditional forms of jazz. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., Rovi


Born: 15 October 1966 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Bill Charlap is one of the strongest mainstream jazz pianists on the scene and one of the most gifted interpreters of standards. He grew up in a musical household, as the son of Broadway songwriter Moose Charlap and singer Sandy Stewart. Taking to the piano at a young age, he went on to study at New York's High School of Performing Arts. He then entered college, but rather than finishing, opted to practice and gig on his own. Pianist Bill Mays soon took up Charlap's cause, recommending the young...
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