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September 2003

Mike Melvoin
It's Always You
City Light Entertainment

Put four dedicated jazzoids together in a recording studio under the direction of a pianist who has done, seen and played it all, and the result is It's Always You (City Light): Mike Melvoin, Steinway grand; Phil Woods, alto and clarinet; Steve Gilmore, bass; and Bill Goodwin, drums. The CD provides Melvoin with the ideal outlet for his top two talents: playing straightahead, bop-flavored chamber jazz and venting his writing chops. He has six originals here, including the title tune-the quintessential love song-dedicated to his wife, Sandy. That lovely ballad also finds Woods at his lyrical best, a description befitting his clarinet work on the relaxed swinger "I'm Confessin'." Also noted, same cut: Woods' sotto voce backing for Gilmore's finest solo. Other highlights: "But I Have To," Melvoin's humorous response to Monk's call, "Well You Needn't"; Goodwin's brushwork on "I Hear a Rhapsody" and his skill at trading fours with Melvoin on "Easy to Love," a tune marked by the pianist's clever descending reharmonizations; Gilmore's fine solo on Melvoin's charming waltz "This Is the Place"; and, above all, Melvoin, for just showing up. He's one swinger who never met a chord he couldn't embellish.

Originally published in September 2003
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