Longtime Chicago trumpeter-flugelhornist Bobby Lewis enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a lyrical and swinging soloist, and his eighth CD reinforces that assessment. With a third of the album’s tunes from the pens of such wonderfully melodic composers as Johnny Mandel (“The Shining Sea”), Henry Mancini (“Dreamsville” and “Two for the Road”) and Clare Fischer (“Morning”), one can see where Lewis’ values lie. His own lovely waltz “Together We’ll Stay” as well as sensitive ballads by bandmates Rob Amster (“The Evening Star”) and Pat Mallinger (“Sauce Melba”) maintain a similar lyrical spirit. Rounding out the program are Gerry Mulligan’s dancing “Line for Lyons,” Walter Booker’s uptempo Latin “Saudade II,” Wayne Shorter’s brisk modal waltz “Edda” and an authentic-sounding arrangement of Jelly Roll Morton’s New Orleans jazz classic “Grandpa’s Spells.”
The soloists, all top-flight veteran performers, speak the language of hard bop, although Lewis sometimes does so with a “cool jazz” accent. And though saxophonist Pat Mallinger plays post-Coltrane tenor and Charlie Parker-derived alto, his pretty alto tone and upward pitch swoops on “Sauce Melba” suggest a reverence for Johnny Hodges as well.
A highlight is the leader’s luscious arrangement of “Dreamsville” overdubbed by himself and Burl Lane for four bassoons, four flugelhorns, trumpet and tenor.