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Ted Curson: In Paris: Live at the Sunside

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This two CD set contains over two hours of wonderfully entertaining jazz from the indefatigable Curson, 71 years old when recorded live in August of 2006. The fiery trumpeter whose early career associations included Cecil Taylor, Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy, and then later established a notable presence on the European jazz scene, introduces us to some very talented but lesser known overseas musicians.

Pierrick Pédron is a formidable bebop altoist out of the Cannonball Adderley school, with a tone sometimes approaching the rawness of Vincent Herring. He plays with endless drive, polished technique and great clarity. Pianist Alain Jean-Marie has an absorbing, sophisticated style resembling that of Barry Harris. Bassist Gilles Naturel and drummer Philippe Soirat prove to be solid and tasteful in support, and Naturel’s lucid solos are quite effective. His brother Guillaume exhibits a pure, warm tone and nimble fingering on flute. Julie Saury, daughter of clarinetist Maxim, contributes engaging solos on congas and bongos. Sylvia Howard sings her heart out alongside Curson in a “Blues Medley.” That leaves the vocal choir, Ferhat ?-z, Evrim ?-zsuca, Daiva Starinskaite and Jaanika Ventsel, four young singers that Curson discovered during a singing competition at the Nõmme Jazz Festival in Estonia. They all sing with great feeling, verve and individuality.

Curson himself plays with much spirit and creativity, and also sings up a storm in a blues-drenched, ingratiating voice. The program ranges from Curson’s own “Tears for Dolphy” and “Reava’s Waltz,” to many jazz classics and standards such as “Caravan,” “Dig,” “‘Round About Midnight,” “Woody ‘n’ You,” “Tin Tin Deo,” “Milestones,” “Cherokee,” “Confirmation,” “Georgia On My Mind,” “Lover Man” and even “Blueberry Hill.” Referring to Mingus, Curson is quoted as saying, “The older I get, the more I begin to look like my master and even act like him.” Mingus would certainly have appreciated this ambitious project, and the gusto and humor with which it’s delivered.