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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Little Things

Nagel Heyer CD 104





1. Just You, Just Me
2. Sweet Lorraine
3. Solitude/I Got Rhythm
4. Little Things Mean a Lot
5. I Want To Be Happy
6. Sugar
7. The Man I Love
8. I Can't Get Started
9. Mean To Me
10. Ruby's Blues
11. Braff Talk
Ruby Braff - Cornet
Tony Drennan - Piano
Jimmy McKay - Bass
Jack Daly - Drums

Having recently praised a Ruby Braff CD (C'est Magnifique! on Arbors Jazz), it may seem excessive to laud yet another his albums, but Braff is one of those musicians that you can hardly ever praise too highly. His cornet playing continued the Bix Beiderbecke tradition of sweet tone and beautifully-constructed solos, and it is hard to find a major fault in anything he has recorded.

Like the Zoot Sims CD I reviewed recently on this website, this album was recorded in Dublin (in 1976, two years before the Sims CD), when Braff played with a local rhythm section. Only the bassist Jimmy McKay is the same as on the Zoot Sims CD and the rhythm section seems slightly less proficient, sometimes coming across as un-coordinated, although adequate for the purpose. The drum solo on the opening track sounds awkward and Ruby appears to be temporarily thrown by the uncertain beat. In fact, at his best, pianist Tony Drennan is reminiscent of that great accompanist, Sammy Price. But Ruby is the main focus of the album and he plays radiantly throughout.

Highspots include the third track, where Braff sounds as if he is going to end the slow Solitude but he switches unexpectedly to an up-tempo I Got Rhythm; Ruby's elegant solo on Little Things Mean a Lot; and Buddy's Blues, which illustrates Ruby's admiration for Louis Armstrong. Braff even manages to equal Bobby Hackett's classic version of I Can't Get Started - not by imitating Hackett but by using the whole range of the cornet to reinterpret the melody afresh.
The album is rather let down by the final track, which consists of Ruby talking to the audience. I like his plea to them to keep their conversation down, but I don't care for his off-colour remarks about someone's wife. This track should probably have been omitted from the album.

Tony Augarde






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