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Don't Look Back

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Album Review

Cornetist Warren Vaché had more than 35 albums as a leader under his belt before he was finally able to realize his lifelong dream of making an album with a string ensemble. Don't Look Back was recorded in Glasgow with a 12-piece studio group called simply the Scottish Ensemble, and Vaché had the additional great fortune of securing the arranging skills of 87-year-old Bill Finegan, a legend who was essentially drawn out of retirement for this project. The deep experience of all concerned is showcased brilliantly on this album, which is basically an hour-long study in elaborate and gorgeously orchestrated melancholy. This would be called "make-out music" if it weren't all so richly and wonderfully sad — it's more like breakup music for a couple who still loves each other and bears no ill will, but knows the relationship is doomed and is anxious to break it off gently and leave the happy memories intact. Vaché's tone is warm and heartbreakingly lovely throughout; the string arrangements are, unsurprisingly, richly detailed but never ostentatious. There are no uptempo numbers; from the hauntingly beautiful "It Was Written in the Stars," which opens the program, to the bittersweet title track that ends it, this album moves slowly and gracefully through various shades of lyrical blue, never stopping but never hurrying, either. This is perhaps not the best album to listen to if you're depressed already — but if you're in the mood for something soft and sad, for mood music that rewards close attention, then you'd be hard pressed to find anything better than this. Very highly recommended.

Biography

Born: 21 February 1951 in Rahway, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Several years before Wynton Marsalis gained headlines for helping to revive hard bop, Warren Vache (along with Scott Hamilton) was among the few young jazz musicians who were reviving small-group swing. Vache, who always had a beautiful tone and a chance-taking style, is the son of a fine bassist (Warren Vache, Sr.) and the brother of clarinetist Allen Vache. He studied music with Pee Wee Erwin; gained early experience playing with Benny Goodman, Vic Dickenson, and Bob Wilber; and has been a leader...
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