Jazz for Svetlana

the new CD by Bob Arthurs and Steve Lamattina

The story of how this album came to be is one of those exquisitely tender tales of love—a man's love of his wife who loves jazz. Bob Arthur himself gives the account in his own words.

"The making of our new album, 'Jazz for Svetlana,' was a labor of love. The guitarist Steve LaMattina and I have been playing together off and on for about ten years. Our good friend Svetlana, who is a wonderful classical pianist, really loved hearing Steve and I play as a duo. She also kept telling her husband Yuri how much she loved our music. Yuri decided to give her a very special birthday present. He called me one day and said that he would like to produce a duo album of Steve and myself. All he wanted out of it was the first CD to give to Svetlana for her birthday. After that he said we could promote and sell the album wherever and however we wanted. So here we are. The CD has been well received by everyone who got an advance copy. It was a pleasure to record, and I’m happy to say that Svetlana loved her birthday present."

What a splendid introduction to the album. Having heard that story, I was prepared for the party. The intimate interplay between trumpet and guitar was suitable for a live performance in Yuri and Svetlana’s living room. This was the image that accompanied me into my first hearing of the CD.

Bob Arthurs brings over 40 years of musical experience into the duet having played with so many jazz greats like Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Sal Mosca, Larry Coryell, Bucky Pizzarelli, Tal Farlow and so many more. Steve Lamattina is a seasoned performer and music educator himself and the chemistry between them is solid and fluid in coexistence.

There are nine songs on the album with two of them penned by Bob Arthurs himself. It is a charming collection of tunes from Irving Berlin to Jackie Gleason to Dizzy Gillespie and the performance of those pieces in trumpet and guitar duet is a great treat under Bob and Steve’s charming treatment.

Another treat is that this CD marks the singing debut of Bob Arthurs. It follows after “How Deep is the Ocean” by Irving Berlin and the first track wherein Bob sings is the Marks and Simons classic “All of Me.”

His vocal delivery is relaxed, unrestrained and gentle. It certainly must have been thought of as words from Yuri to Svetlana and was essential to an album made possible by one man’s adoration of his wife.

Dizzy Gillepsie’s “Night in Tunisia” is on everyone’s short list of jazz favorites and Bob and Steve add their own magic to the mythical number. Bob’s delivery is swinging and sharp.

Steve Lamattina is brilliant at accompanying with cool understrokes to Bob’s trumpet. He also provides fluid solos that go from whimsy to charm and his technical skills are refined and refreshing. He has a sweet talent for underscoring without undercutting.

Bob and Steve have been performing together for over ten years and their comfort level with each other is exceedingly clear in the movement between them. It is also evidenced in the number of single takes required during the recording.

The inclusion of old favorites is like a couple in love walking familiar lanes, reliving the memories, while Bob’s original numbers provide sights not seen on previous walks. If love is a gift for the giver and the receiver, it is certainly a gift to those of us who simply get to witness it.

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Travis Rogers