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Ruby Braff: You Brought a New Kind of Love

By 2001, Ruby Braff was not in the best of health, suffering from ailments that made it difficult for the 74-year-old cornetist to see, breathe or even move. Despite his physical limitations, and a tragedy that ripped apart the psyche of the country two days earlier, Braff entered Nola Studios on September 13 with pianist Bill Charlap and drummer Jake Hanna to record six inspiring tracks.

The spare instrumentation was inspired by the trio dates of Benny Goodman and Lester Young, and the arrangements of songs like “It’s Wonderful” don’t leave room for anyone else. After an opening chorus that includes a machine-gun riff, Braff engages Charlap in a dialogue where the pianist helps him finish a series of flowing phrases, like they are one instrument. In “Them There Eyes,” the hornman who called himself “a saloon entertainer” gracefully tosses in references to “Fascinating Rhythm” as he flies by.

The studio session was intended as a followup to a performance at the 2001 March of Jazz, where the trio was augmented by second pianist Dick Hyman and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. Hyman and Pizzarelli obviously didn’t make that date, so three tracks from the earlier live performance close out the disc, with the guitar and extra set of 88s helping to wrap things up in style.

Originally Published