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Bob Lark: Until You

The main problem with this album is that there’s not enough of it–just 41 minutes of great chamber jazz featuring some of Chicago’s best swingers: trumpeter/ flugelhornist Lark, pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Kelly Sill and drummer Joel Spencer. A minor problem is the recording/mixing. You have to strain to hear the bass, but it’s worth “listening louder” for her lines; they’re always carefully chosen. Check her solo on Thad Jones’ “Walkin’ About.”

Lark’s improvisations are intelligently sculpted, particularly on his own “A Narrow Path,” “The Things We Did Last Summer” and his muted version of “Bye, Bye Blackbird.” Only his horn is muted; his ideas are clear and eloquent. The one who steals this 2002 session is McNeely. Every solo is a gem; all his comping is memorable.

The only question mark is “‘Round Midnight,” recorded a month later in a different venue. Featuring Lark’s solo, muted trumpet, the rubato rendition is heartfelt, but you keep expecting the rhythm section to show up. But Dr. Lark must know what he’s doing: He heads the jazz studies program at DePaul University.

Originally Published