Hameit Bluiett: Live at the Village Vanguard: Ballads & Blues

Veteran baritone saxophonist Bluiett takes a quartet outing at the club that launched a thousand jazzmen that logs in as quite a bit mellower than his more familiar work anchoring the World Saxophone Quartet. Could be that the presence of a senior guitarist, Ted Dunbar, brings out the ripeness in his big horn, both with elegant if energetic comping and a Strayhorn-esque composition of gentle beauty in “Rare Moments.” In any case, Bluiett stretches like a lion on two standard ballads (“You’ve Changed” and “I Can’t Get Started”) and gets another from the massive, supple bass of Clint Houston with “Darian.” Bluiett’s own tunes are a very laid-back samba, “Rain Forest Ripples,” on which his bari reaches adenoidal astrospheres, and rompers with lots of riffs and ostinatos in “Thelonious” and the 6/8 “Hello/Goodbye Song.” Ben Riley, a key personage on drums, lithely supports this solid band of younger statesmen (Houston’s the kiddo at 50+) who are old enough to know better than to play from the hip anywhere, especially at the Vanguard. So they play from the heart.