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Richie Cole and the Alto Madness Orchestra : Risë’s Rose Garden

This was a labor of love for Richie Cole, whose wife Risë had passed away not long before the session took place. Her rose garden was where they often retreated.

The small band of two saxophones, one or two trumpets, trombone and rhythm section went into the studio shortly after a three-day run at a New York club. For the two-CD recording, Cole added trumpeter Jack Walrath, guitarist Vic Juris, pianist Don Friedman, and on two tracks, percussionist Ray Mantilla. Cole wrote all the arrangements, including 10 original compositions. Although tracks like his own “Psycho-la-Tron” and “Three East” swing in a conventional small-jazz-band manner, some others sound more suited for a jazz-influenced dance band. “Garden in the Moonlight,” for example, must surely have been done in jest as it evokes the spirit of 1950s teen music groups with names like the Crewcuts. And Cole’s take on “Beyond the Sea” would go over well at the typical country club.

The improvised solos, however, are consistently first-order jazz. Cole is in excellent form, especially on his two quartet tracks, “There Will Never Be Another You” and “Now I Have Everything,” and Friedman and Juris are sterling throughout.

Originally Published