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Joe Temperley: A Portrait

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Depending on your taste, Temperley may be the best living baritone saxophonist in jazz today. He has a rich, robust tone, an authoritative melodic style and he swings heartily. His tone and playing innately command respect. On this album, he pays tribute to fellow baritone players Harry Carney (to whom he is often compared), Cecil Payne, Serge Chaloff and Gerry Mulligan, and he also throws in a few other performances just for kicks. The tracks are split among quartet cuts (with pianist John Bunch, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth), cuts with tenor saxophonist Andy Farber added and Temperley overdubbing soprano saxophone or bass clarinet, a rhythm-section cut sans horns, and an unaccompanied bass clarinet cut. Farber and David Berger penned the multi-horn arrangements.

“The Goof and I,” a tribute to Chaloff, conjures up the Woody Herman band of the ’40s, with Farber suggestive of Zoot Sims (elsewhere he recalls Harold Ashby) and Temperley bopping along like Chaloff and also Mulligan. “I Should Care,” a quartet track, elicits a warm, vibrato-laden, pre-bop-style performance from Temperley. Mulligan’s “Swing House” (based on the chord progression of “Sweet Georgia Brown”) features Temperley and Farber again, and then there’s an interlude as the rhythm section plays a light, fluid version of “Can’t We Be Friends.” Bunch, ever-tasteful and swinging in the manner of Nat “King” Cole, Count Basie and Hank Jones, is perfect here and throughout the album.

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