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Larry Vuckovich: Somethin’ Special

Pianist Larry Vuckovich makes concept albums, but his concepts are flexible and his illustrations are fresh. Somethin’ Special is mostly about late bop, Blue Note-style. Not a novel idea, but Vuckovich chooses pieces by essential composers that have not been heard enough: Sonny Clark’s title track, Horace Silver’s “Enchantment,” Tadd Dameron’s “Soultrane,” Dexter Gordon’s “Cheese Cake.” Then he brings in tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, an elegant improviser whose style predates World War II. It is fun to hear Hamilton get politely down and slightly dirty, especially on Ben Tucker’s nasty “Comin’ Home Baby.”

Vuckovich also uses Noel Jewkes, a fluent, underexposed tenor saxophonist who, back in the day, played blues and rock with Michael Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield. Jewkes’ feature is “Soultrane.” His dark sound suggests withheld secrets and his touch feels like someone muscular choosing to be gentle.

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