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Vibes: With Drawn

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Bill Ware is a contemporary vibist of high caliber. With ensembles like The Jazz Passengers and Groove Collective, Ware’s soft-focused vibes exude a simmering cobalt hue that’s cool and foreboding. But playing in such large combos, Ware is too often relegated to colorist or auxiliary musician. With the trio Vibes, which is actually the rhythm section for the Jazz Passengers, Ware’s voice takes center stage.

With Drawn is their second release and first studio effort. Given that Ware, bassist Brad Jones and drummer/percussionist E.J. Rodriguez have been playing together in various groups for so many years, it should come as no surprise that the record’s communal spirit is sublime. That quality allows for both inside jokes like Rodriguez’s “Squeaky the Clown” and “Oh, E.J.” to yank the senses, and covers of R&B classics like Eddie Kendrick’s “Keep On Truckin'” and Bill Whithers’ “Lovely Day” to ooze without the threat of becoming smooth-jazz.

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