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Plas Johnson: Evening Delight

For a nostalgic trip back to the era of bebop romantics, check out saxophonist Plas Johnson’s Evening Delight (Carell Music CM103-CD; 60:00). Sliding up the notes like his smoky-toned forbears, Johnson breathes sensuality into classics like “You’ve Changed,” and a slow-tempoed, heart-melting read of “It Had to Be You.” Johnson’s distinctive chops (which can be heard in support of Diana Ross and Linda Ronstadt, but are perhaps best known as the voice of Mancini’s “Pink Panther Theme”) are set off by a tight little club-styled combo, including the wonderful Ross Tompkins on piano. This stellar support gives Johnson breathing room when he takes the balladeer’s tempo on “Take the ‘A’-Train,” creating a lonely, yet nostalgic feel. Likewise Tompkins’ lightly waltzing introduction is the perfect foil for Johnson’s low, bittersweet read of “Little Girl Blue,” accentuating a palpable longing.

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