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Magic 201

Frank Wess

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

Frank Wess (1922-2013) was there to see it firsthand, playing alongside all the greats in the bands of Billy Eckstine and Count Basie as well as on his own. Magic 201 is from the same sessions as the critically acclaimed Magic 101; it finds the master stretching out on this ballad-heavy set with his silky tenor on standards like “Embraceable You” and the jaunty “It Could Happen to You.” (He plays solo flute on “The Summer Knows.”) He breaks things up with “Blues for Ruby,” which brings some grit to the proceedings, thanks in large part to Wess and the guitar of Russell Malone. Masters of tone and technique, pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Rufus Reid also fit hand in glove with Wess throughout, while Winard Harper’s drumming is sometimes felt more than heard. Things aptly close out with the peppy Charlie Chaplin tune “If It’s the Last Thing I Do,” which leaves Wess’s final statement as one that's both playful and refined—in other words, quintessential Frank Wess.


Born: January 4, 1922 in Kansas City, MO

Genre: Jazz

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

One of the first major jazz flutists, Frank Wess was also a top Lester Young-influenced tenor man, an expert first altoist, and an occasional composer/arranger — certainly a valuable man to have around. Early on he toured with Blanche Calloway, served in the military, and had stints with the Billy Eckstine Orchestra (1946), Eddie Heywood, Lucky Millinder, and R&B star Bull Moose Jackson. That was all just a prelude to Wess' important period with Count Basie's big band, from 1953-1964. His...
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Magic 201, Frank Wess
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  • $7.92
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Feb 04, 2014

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