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Mike Barone and Gary Barone: Blues & Other Happy Moments

“Happy” is the key word for this CD reissue of a session that appeared as an LP on the Palo Alto label 25 years ago, then sank out of sight. The playing and writing by the Barone brothers and their colleagues has the buoyancy and radiance of eight people having a fine time. That is due, in no small measure, to the drumming of the late Shelly Manne. The infectious spirit extends to Mike Barone’s solos on trombone, Gary Barone’s on trumpet and those of alto saxophonist Dick Spencer and pianist Theo Saunders. Tom Scott lays aside his tenor sax in favor of the breath-controlled analog synthesizer known as a Lyricon. He achieves a wild seat-of-the-pants feeling with the instrument and a surprising range of tonal colors.

John Heard is the bassist, Alex Acuna the percussionist. The tunes are all by the brothers, except for “Estate,” a feature for Mike Barone, whose distinctive trombone style might be better known if he hadn’t devoted much of his career to writing. Three joyous pieces, “Beef Stew,” “Other Happy Moments” and “Song for Our Father,” fade to oblivion, annoyingly. Surely a writer of Mike Barone’s gift could have come up with endings for them.

Originally Published