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Cecil Brooks III: Live at Sweet Basil, Volume Two

It’s a bit odd for a dynamic drummer like Cecil Brooks III to lead a group in a session made up of mostly ballads, but that’s just what he’s done on Live at Sweet Basil, Volume Two (Savant). A few of the tunes run the expected hard-bop course, notably the go-for-broke “Swamp Run” and the burning, Blakeylike “Hill District.” But five out of the eight tunes merely simmer, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when pianist John Hicks gets all romantic with a lovely rendition of Erroll Garner’s “Dreamy” and plays a tender solo on his own “Prelude to Yvette.” Tenor saxophonist Don Braden demonstrates his virile sound and vibrato on Jimmy Heath’s “The Voice of the Saxophone,” and in an attempt at intimacy Riley Mullins puts his muted trumpet right up against the microphone on the Brooks original “Sweet Summer Breeze.” (Note to brass players: it doesn’t matter how many photos of Miles you’ve studied, if you aren’t using a very high quality microphone, playing right up against it results in distortion.)

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