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Preston Love: Omaha Blues

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Best known to jazz historians and record collectors as lead altoman Earl Warren’s replacement in Count Basie’s 1943 to ’47 band, Preston Love, since then an accomplished tenorman and vocalist as well, went on to enjoy a wide and varied career in R&B and early rock-n-roll, largely in collaboration with lifetime friend Johnny Otis. Now, at 79 and still a masterly saxophonist, Love was called upon to record this, his first leader date since the ’50s/’60s period, when he was most recently active as a performer. The proof is here that Love has not lost a beat in the intervening years.

Backed by a no-frills rhythm section featuring pianist Orville Johnson, Love alternates his creamy lead-style alto, in tone and conception not dissimilar to Warren and fellow ex-Basieite Tab Smith, with his tenor, a horn he uses to express his grittier reactions to life. Love sings on “Stormy Weather” and “Preston’s Christmas Potpourri Blues,” while the five other vocal tracks-“When Sunny Gets Blue,” “Satin Doll,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “When You Know, You Know,” and “How Deep Is the Ocean?” -are divided between Preston’s daughter Portia and Ansar Muhammad. Of the instrumental tracks, special commendation goes to Love’s overdubbed sectional treatment of the Basie standard “Swingin’ the Blues.”