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Swing Summit: Passing the Torch

It’d be hard to go wrong with a smooth and swinging lineup like the sextet gathered here live at Tarrytown’s Town Hall in 1992. From the bottom up, they are: Ben Riley, Ray Drummond, Kenny Barron, Steve Turre, Frank Wess and Jon Faddis. Need I even add their instruments? They are such known personalities, I barely had need to insert first names, except for the bassist, who has an unrelated namesake who plays “mean” drums. Known personalities are usually dependable, and this lot are in the best sense: they hew to a comfy pace, call a good set (each CD has six tracks, with a pair of ballad features in the middle), and solos are universally high-caliber.

Turre’s subbing for the ailing Al Grey lends a fresh bent to the proceedings, yet his in-your-ear plunger feature on “You’ve Changed” recalls Butter Jackson, Dicky Wells. He elsewhere conjures a host of ‘bonists still in your fantasy, and his island conch on the medium-clip “C Jam Blues” will fritter your fries. Of particular interest also are Wess’ flute, at once sultry and pert, Turre’s wrangles and Barron’s politesse on producer Mike Morganelli’s “Basie-Like.” Faddis sticks to Harmon mute and squeezes out energetic Gillespian etudes on most solos, though his “Body And Soul” squirts more robustly. Riley and Drummond TCOB. Not surprisingly, not a one of these guys mails it in.

Originally Published