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Beaux J Poo Boo: All Things Are New

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Beaux J Poo Boo consists of four outstanding musicians-pianist Shelly Berg, guitarist Fred Hamilton, bassist Lou Fischer and drummer Steve Houghton-none of whom is listed as leader. All have led, composed, arranged, taught and accumulated more degrees than any thermometer. Few jazz combos really need a leader–just someone to kick off the tempo. But it would be nice if arrangers were credited here. The voicings and unison lines are extremely clever and economical.

The musicians swing their fannies off on Hamilton’s “Hosanna” and Berg’s “Go With Godfrey.” Fischer plucks beautifully on “Tooth,” Berg’s tribute to Frank Mantooth. Fischer also shows his arco chops with a lovely rendition of a neglected Benny Carter ballad, “Only Trust Your Heart.” All dozen tracks contain first-rate, bop-flavored straightahead musicianship.

Oh, about the name of the band: It goes back, not surprisingly, to a tune by Les McCann who wrote the song for a 1971 album, Invitation to Openness. It represents, to quote McCann, “The many places the musicians have been in their life, shaping them into who they are today.” OK, whatever, man. It’s the weakest track on All Things Are New.