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Bob Stewart/Hank Jones: Take Two

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Bob Stewart’s silky and soothing baritone gives saloon singers a good name-crooner. His approach is straightforward and without distracting gimmicks; he just sings pretty songs so expressively that each lyrical message is well communicated. His vocal warmth fills 14 tracks, from slow-burning ballads like “Skylark” to the up-tempo “Secret Love.”

Stewart is working with a stellar quartet that suits his style to a T-and that stands for taste. Pianist Hank Jones delivers elegant solos throughout, particularly on “Close Your Eyes,” “Never Let Me Go” and “Speak Low.” Michael Moore lays down a lively walking bass line behind the opening and closing vocal on “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” Frank Wess blowing torrid tenor all the way. Wess, who delivers expressive solos on “Body and Soul,” adds his soaring flute to “Day In, Day Out.” The haunting Billie Holiday hit “Don’t Misunderstand” is enhanced by both flute and the lush Perricone Strings, with Mel Lewis adding percussive touches that accent perfectly without ever intruding. One of the most notable songs on the album is “Alone Together,” the first chorus delivered as a stunningly simple duet. Stewart & Company are pure class.