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Michele Ramo, Bucky Pizzarelli, Jerry Bruno: Oh, Lady Be Good

An all-strings swing session with a Gallic twist, this trio offering from three vets is enjoyable enough to make you think the “standards” concept isn’t entirely played out yet. At least for an hour or so.

Certainly there’s no sign that fiddler Michele Ramo, guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and bassist Jerry Bruno have grown tired of playing the tunes gathered here, though one suspects these cozy performances were more inspired by chemistry and camaraderie than by repertory. Suffice to say that there are no surprises here, tunewise. In addition to the title track, the Gershwins are represented by “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” (which moves from rubato melody and arpeggiated accompaniment into 4/4 chordal propulsion); Rodgers and Hart by “Have You Met Miss Jones?” (another out-of-tempo showcase for Ramo’s lyrical fiddle until Pizzarelli pushes the tune into gear); Hoagy Carmichael by “Stardust” (mostly slow and soulful but enlivened by Pizzarelli’s strumming); and Johnny Mandel by “A Time for Love” (the album’s haunting coda).

Django Reinhardt’s legacy, however, looms large. He had a hand in composing three of the pieces on the CD-“Nuages, “Tears” and “Mélodie au Crépuscule.” Not surprisingly, all rank among the album’s highlights, particularly the last, with Ramo and Pizzarelli evoking the Stéphane Grappelli-Reinhardt pairing with aplomb and affection. All the while, Bruno underscores the melodies and rhythms with a resonant tone or a swinging pulse, completing this portrait of pre-war jazz.

Originally Published