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David Benoit/Greg Bissonette/Brian Bromberg: The Great Composers of Jazz

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The newly formed Vertical Jazz Records debuts with an attractive, six-CD series of straightahead trio, quartet and quintet recordings showcasing top West Coast jazz artists, many of whom had never recorded together before. Because these musicians have leaned toward pop-jazz or pursued unidentified studio work, they may surprise you with their stunning straightahead remakes of standards. These sessions, recorded under direction of executive producer/president Suzanne Severini last spring at Ocean Way Recording Studios in Hollywood, prove the label is off to a strong start.

In their scintillating 10-tune tribute to the piano trio tradition of Bill Evans, The Great Composers of Jazz, pianist David Benoit, bassist Bromberg and drummer Bissonette deliver polished versions of warhorse standards. Highlights include a rousing take on Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo La Turk,” a lovely reading of the Modern Jazz Quartet classic, “Django” and a sweeping version of Evans’ most famous composition, “Waltz for Debbie.” Bromberg’s 280-year-old bass adds sonorously to the session, especially when he plays the head on “Straight, No Chaser.” Included are provocative remakes of Oscar Peterson’s “Cakewalk,” Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” Neal Hefti’s “Cute” and more.