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Bob Lark & Friends: Cathy’s Song

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For his sixth album as leader, the current four being on Jazzed Media, Bob Lark has seriously spread his producer’s wings and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Surrounding himself with A-list friends – such as altoist Phil Woods, pianist Jim McNeely, and bassist Rufus Reid; trombonist Thomas Matta, who contributed some key arrangements; Lark’s favorite engineer, Tom Miller, who is also a musician; and most fortunately, the erstwhile concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Samuel Magad, who leads, and is part of, a string ensemble.

Dr. Lark, who directs DePaul University’s Jazz Studies Program, emphasizes beauty of melody while stressing the role of jazz in embellishing those melodies as much as possible, utilizing a nonet, strings, even a drum-less trio, to vary the timbres. That’s where the arrangers figure prominently; so do the players where a chart is created by “mutual agreement” just before being recorded — many of which here proved to be first takes.

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