I Hear Music
The irascible cornetist Ruby Braff is still going strong in his 75th year. While most musicians his age are content to go through the motions and collect their royalties, Braff continues to challenge himself by choosing an interesting repertoire and surrounding himself with first-rate musicians. Braff's dark, burnished tone and tart phrasing are heard to great effect on the title track of I Hear Music (Arbors). His compatible accompanists, including pianist Bill Charlap, saxophonist Tommy Newsom and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, engage him in musical conversation, trading eights and finishing each other's phrases. Highlights include the intimate duets during "Baby Won't You Please Come Home," a medley of Chicago tunes that demonstrates the way a rhythm section can listen and breathe together and the extraordinary "(I Would Do) Anything For You," in which Bill Charlap manages to play like both Count Basie and Oscar Peterson doing their call and response (Satch!). Vocalist Daryl Sherman sits in for one song and does a fine job on the closing Braff original "We're All Through." One puzzler: why is Newsom, who sounds deliciously Zootish throughout, not credited on the cover?