Blue Note Records
Tribute albums can seem tawdry at times: an effort by the artist to trade on the talent and reputation of another. At other times, they are transcendent, a happy confluence of inspiration and opportunity. This is definitely in the latter category. Saxophonist Joe Lovano has brought together a set of talents that would have the Rat Pack doing their own version of the Matinee Swoon. Manny Albam contributes some of the finest charts of his distinguished career; George Mraz on bass and Al Foster on drums assure the swing of the sessions; the 15 piece ensemble of strings, reeds, french horn and rhythm also includes the quartet of Dick Oatts, Ted Nash, Tom Christensen and Billy Drewes on saxes etc., Kenny Werner on piano, and the splendid soprano of Judi Silvano. The whole album is a highlight, as solos, duets and closely-voiced saxophone passages-and even the occasional lyric!-emerge from the seamless fabric of the arrangements. That said, the duet rendition of "Chicago" by Lovano on straight tenor and Foster is superb: shades of Newk and Philly Joe!