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March 2000

Ronnie Wells/Ron Elliston and Friends: Special Guest Houston Report
Mostly Ballads
Jazz Karma Records

Ronnie Wells' warm contralto and sophisticated choice of material, ably supported by the lyrical technique and arrangements of her husband, pianist Ron Elliston, has been a well-appreciated fixture for 20 years on the Washington, D.C. jazz scene, with frequent overseas appearances.

"Friends" on the '91 recording, Mostly Ballads, includes perfect support by James King, bass, and Mike Smith, drums. Person's tenor sax is heard to fine effect on three tracks, including "I'm Confessin'" and the bluesy "Come On Home." The tempos are ballad grooves (a few seem draggy) on rich old standards like "Blue Gardenia" (revived in The Bridges of Madison County). Meriting a reprise is the 1954 song, "Wild Is the Wind," by movie composer Dimitri Tiomkin, with lyrics by Ned Washington. My favorite is George and Ira's "Isn't It A Pity"-a complete winner of a song, delivered with clear diction and fine musicianship.

Originally published in March 2000
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