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October 2005

The Marty Nau Group
At the Bouquet Chorale
Summit

It must have been an eerie experience for Phil Woods to guest with the Marty Nau Group featuring Vince Lardear, as he does on At the Bouquet Chorale, for not only do altoists Nau and Lardear both play in a Woods-ian mode themselves, but the leader often sounds uncannily like a carbon copy of his idol. In fact, there are spots in At the Bouquet Chorale where even the most ardent Woods fan will have a problem telling who is who (fortunately, the notes provide that information).

Regardless, both Nau and Lardear are first-class players in their own right who overflow with compelling ideas executed with masterful technique and harmonic sophistication. Indeed, Lardear, who also wrote most of the tunes, is given to long, sequential, composerlike lines in his improvisations. As for the other charts, Scott Silbert provided clever arrangements of Lionel Hampton's "Air Mail Special" and Duke Ellington's "The Mooche," the three saxophonists switching to clarinets for the latter, while pianist Robert Redd contributed "Samba Nau" and Woods brought in the title tune. The rest of the Washington, D.C.-based group's rhythm section consists of drummer Dominic Smith and bassist Tommy Cecil, who do a fine job of anchoring the proceedings.

Originally published in October 2005
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