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Scott Robinson: Plays the Compositions of Thad Jones: Forever Lasting

Both a generous sampling of the composing talents of Thad Jones (the album is also Arbors’ Great American Composers Series, Vol. 3; Vol. 1, also by Robinson, honored Louis Armstrong) and the instrumental versatility of Scott Robinson, this album is an enticing aperitif that should enhance listeners’ appreciation of composer and musician. For one thing, it firmly establishes Robinson’s stylistic, as well as instrumental, versatility, pulling him out of the trad-jazz pigeonhole where he’s sometimes unfairly relegated. For another, it highlights the adaptability and melodicism of Jones’ works in taking them far from orchestral settings.

Mike LeDonne’s B3 organ appears on five of the 14 tracks, three of them in a combo context with Robinson’s bass sax. That combination is a deep-pocket winner mining ballad, blues or bouncy swinger. At the bass sax end of the sonic spectrum, Robinson also plays contrabass sarrusophone (invented as a brass marching substitute for a bassoon); if the former’s vibrato suggests corrugation, the latter’s conjures up hard wheels on cobblestones. On the snapping-through-changes “Fingers,” Robinson trades solos with himself on soprano flute and the sarrusophone, taking hi-lo contrast to the max. The haunting lyricism of “A Child Is Born” is emphasized by Robinson’s eerie Theremin wafting out the melody over his improvised obligati on alto clarinet. Overdubbing also lets him interweave his flute, C-melody sax and soprano sax through a bossa and play six French horn parts behind his flugelhorn rendition of “The Summary.” His Four Brothers lineage tenor sax approach is heard on straightahead quartet (a trio with Richard Wyands, piano) tracks and in a duet with Hank Jones’ piano on the endearing ballad “All My Yesterdays.” And Robinson’s cornet solo on “Walkin’ About” honors Jones’ favorite instrument, although Robinson (ever the collector of exotica) uses his echo cornet, only employing the alternate, muted bell in the theme statement.

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