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Andy Fielding/Rick Fay: Tunes For Tommy

A devotee of classic jazz since childhood and an increasingly proficient player of clarinet and soprano and tenor saxes, the late Rick Fay only began to receive his due acknowledgement when Mat Domber formed Arbors Jazz in order to present Fay’s talents to a larger audience. Quite a number of CDs have flowed from these quarters since the first release in 1989, and Fay’s abilities as a player have grown proportionately. It is all the more ironic, even tragic, that when he had finally reached the point at which he was comfortable with his playing on all three horns, he had to die of cancer.

On a brighter note, this December 1996 recording shows Fay in all of his latter day glory, playing jazz standards of his choice with a talented young stride and swing pianist, Andy Fielding. The pair works like magic. Alternating between his horns as if all mouthpieces and stylistic approaches were one, Rick sails through ancient tunes like “Hindustan,” “Apex Blues,” “Poor Butterfly,” “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans,” and “Bogalusa Strut,” with all of the ease and swing with which he approaches “It’s the Talk of the Town,” “My One and Only Love,” “Linger Awhile,” “Nuages,” “September Song,” and even Willie Nelson’s “Crazy.”

Understandably, on soprano Fay shows an especial fondness for Sidney Bechet, while on tenor he displays a breadth of sound that links him to Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. His clarinet roots are not as easily pinpointed, but Barney Bigard and Pee Wee Russell were two of the many artists he most appreciated. Fielding is perhaps too young to have established an identifiable touch or style of his own, but he appears to be as well grounded in historical sources as Fay. “Tommy’s Blues” is his own.

Originally Published