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Peter Welker: Paradise is Awfully Nice

Ellington and Strayhorn figure prominently on this release from Peter Welker and Friends. Paradise Is Awfully Nice (33rd Street), leader/arranger/trumpeter Welker’s tribute to his late mother, includes a pair of tunes by Strayhorn and one by Ellington as well as several other jazz standards and the old favorite “Just Friends.” Using anywhere from two to 11 instruments, Welker creates a polished, attractive setting for several outstanding guest soloists. Mandolin player David Grisman’s sensitive reading of “Chelsea Bridge” offers a unique timbral approach to that most beautiful of ballads. Tenorist Ernie Watts takes charge on three tracks, including Herb Ellis’ poignant “Detour Ahead.” And pianist Smith Dobson brings his fine hard-bop lines to Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream” and Mel Torme’s “Born to Be Blue.” But one of the special delights of the recording is hearing veteran Boston trumpet player Herb Pomeroy again. Featured on four tunes, Pomeroy displays all the feeling and inventiveness he first demonstrated in the 1950s.

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