May 1997

Ralph Pena
Master of the Bass
V.S.O.P.

Bassist Ralph Pena, whose premature death in 1969 ended a thriving career on the L.A. jazz scene, is captured here from low-tech recordings that offer decent fidelity. The tracks with pianist Joe Albany and saxophonist Herb Geller are strict bebop, strongly evoking Bird, in contrast to the more mainstream duets with pianist Pete Jolly which less echo an era. In both settings Pena plays interesting riffs and solos while conveying a strong command of the bass, played with gut strings and no amp.

Originally published in May 1997
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