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Ruby Braff: You Can Depend On Me

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Among the swing-based trumpeters of the last 50 years, Ruby Braff, perhaps the last great abstract expressionist in jazz, has not only loomed larger than others for the instant identifiability of his tone and phrasing, but also for his indefatigable support of quality standards, those either completely overlooked by his peers or those played a few dozen times and then ignored. As a case in point, consider his treatment of the eight gems heard on this latest release, all but one of which, Hoagy Carmichael’s “Little Old Lady,” are, or should be, basic to all jazz musicians’ repertoires. Most of them, such as the variously tempoed “Time On My Hands,” “The Man I Love,” “Just You, Just Me,” “S’posin’,” “On the Alamo,” and Earl Hines’ “You Can Depend on Me,” are hardy survivors of the Swing Era, whose chord progressions were widely plundered by the boppers of the ’40s and ’50s, but the Texas Guinan-inspired “Big Butter and Egg Man,” a 1926 number immortalized by Louis Armstrong and Muggsy Spanier, and the balladic “Little Old Lady,” an obscure 1936 show tune, are almost completely forgotten outside the world of trad. Accompanying the always imaginative cornetist are pianist Johnny Varro, acoustic guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, bassist Bob Haggart, and drummer Jim Gwin, stylistic soulmates all.