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Album Review

There's something to be said for gently swinging, decorous, small-ensemble jazz. Quite a lot to be said, actually — in a marketplace dominated by overbearing, thousand-notes-a-minute show-offs. Artists who can make their musical statements concisely, and without bombast, are to be treasured. Of course, there's also something to be said for energy, and if there's one thing occasionally lacking on this genuinely lovely album, that's what it is. Supported by an ace rhythm section consisting of pianist John Sheridan, bassist Dave Stone, and drummer Tony DeNicola, clarinetists Bobby Gordon and Bob Wilber (who switches to soprano sax occasionally), deliver this beautiful program of standards and originals with all the panache and grace you could ask for, if not always all of the oomph you might want. On elegant numbers like the Irving Berlin composition "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," and the regretful "I Ain't Got Nobody," they weave their melodic variations like fine lace around the sturdy backing of the rhythm section, and even on such hackneyed material as "Doodle Doo Doo," they manage to shed new light on the material with their graceful duo improvisations. They're not going to change the way you listen to old-school jazz, but then, they're not trying to. Recommended.


Born: 15 March 1928 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Throughout his long career, Bob Wilber has done a lot to keep classic jazz alive. A bit misplaced (most jazz players of his generation were much more interested in bop and hard bop), Wilber (along with Kenny Davern, Ralph Sutton, and Dick Wellstood) was one of the few in his age group to stick to pre-bop music. In high school he formed a band that included Wellstood, and as a teenager he sat in at Jimmy Ryan's club in New York. Early on he became Sidney Bechet's protégé and led his own young group,...
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