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The American All Stars in Paris: Sarah Morrow

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Trombonist Sarah Morrow, who has the distinction of being the first female instrumentalist in the Ray Charles Orchestra (1995-’97), is an extroverted player who occasionally recalls the brashness of the late Al Grey. Originally from Ohio, she has found a home in Paris, where she recorded this album with organist Rhoda Scott, tenor saxophonist Hal Singer, bassist Wayne Dockery or Peter Giron and drummer John Betsch or Jeff Boudreaux. Rather than a typical combo jam on familiar tunes such as “Blue Monk,” “Worksong,” “You’ve Changed,” “Sweet and Lovely” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” Morrow has enlisted Gary Carney to write charts that employ ensemble interludes and riffs, full-voiced horn-and-organ chords and unexpected rhythmic underpinning (such as the “Killer Joe” vamp on “Sweet and Lovely”). The result is swinging, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable–no tedium anywhere.

Morrow makes bold expressive use of the plunger mute, and her solos employ the natural character of the trombone. Veteran Singer plays a slinky, sinewy, harmonically thoughtful style. Scott is a gas–a punchy, hard-driving, explosive swinger. The bassists and drummers make their presence felt solidly.