Live at the 10th Annual East Coast Jazz Festival
Jazz Karma Records
To experience a seasoned pro in absolute top form, check out Ronnie Wells' Live at the 10th Annual East Coast Jazz Festival (Jazz Karma). Recorded a year-and-a-half ago in Rockville, Md., it's really two short albums combined into one sublime package. First, there's a 40-minute concert that showcases the indefatigable stylist's remarkable dexterity on a mixed bag of treats that ranges from the tender embrace of Mack Gordon's "This Is Always" to the gentle sway of the sprightly Sergio Mendes theme "Mas Que Nada." Then, there's a 30-minute "Jam Session" that teams Wells with two ideal playmates-fellow vocal veteran Ernie Andrews and tenor saxophonist Houston Person. Warming up with an easy-going "The More I See You," Wells and Andrews then step up the pace with a spirited "This Can't Be Love" before sliding into a cozy rendition of "I'm Glad There Is You" that could melt the stoniest heart. The real kicker, though, is a 10-minute treatment of Berry Gordy's "Try It Baby" that is pure, obstreperous joy. As live recordings go, it doesn't get much more scrumptious than this.