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John Ellis & Double Wide: Charm

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If you’re curious what marvels await you on John Ellis & Double-Wide’s Charm, consider the title, along with the fact that this is the quintet’s third album. Tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Ellis’ latest is a heady stew of unparalleled musicianship and melodic inspiration.

The bulk of Charm‘s tracks were written by Ellis during a Make Jazz Fellowship at Santa Monica’s 18th Street Arts Center, and his West Coast sojourn produced 10 exhilarating compositions. “Snake Handler,” driven by Ellis’ tenor, Alan Ferber’s trombone and Gary Versace on organ, slithers like its namesake reptile. “Barbed Wire Britches” is all bite, while “Horse Won’t Trot” lopes along at a woozy yet dignified pace, abetted by Jason Marsalis’ clip-clopping drums. “Old Hotel” blends the cabaret lamentations of Versace’s accordion with a rolling, funeral-march cadence from Marsalis, and the funky “Booker” serves up a melody you’ll happily find stuck in your head for days.

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