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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Swinging the Changes

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19358



1. I Won´t Dance
2. Swinging the Changes
3. If Only You Knew
4. I Believe in Miracles
5. Jasmine
6. No More Bules
7. You Are Too Beautiful
8. California Here I Come
9. Rabbit Jumped the Frog
10. Ode To Pug
11. Skybloo
12. Dialogue
13. JP´s Tee
14. Scuttlebrook Bounce
15. The Sage
16. Circulatin´ in C

Nik Payton - Tenor sax, clarinet
Bob Wilber - Soprano sax, alto sax, clarinet
Richard Busiakiewicz - Piano
Dave Green - Bass
Steve Brown - Drums

Arbors Jazz is an American label but this CD was recorded in England, where Bob Wilber is now resident. When Bob and his wife were touring Britain with the Bechet Legacy Band, they were enchanted with the Cotswolds town of Chipping Campden and now live there. The local dentist's son, named Nik Payton, came to Wilber for lessons and progressed to playing with the Charleston Chasers, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra and even the Duke Ellington band - although that was the 2000 version led by Ellington's son Mercer.

As Payton's mentor, you might expect that Bob Wilber recorded this album with him as an act of charity but Nik needs no charity: he is an excellent player in his own right, on both tenor sax and clarinet. You Are Too beautiful is good evidence of this: a performance which features Nik's tenor bringing out all the emotion in the ballad, with a velvety tone reminiscent of Ben Webster. Nik also wrote JP's Tee for his golf-loving father. It's a jaunty piece, with Payton again sounding Websterish and Bob Wilber's soprano sax calling out with conviction and swapping fours with drummer Steve Brown.

Wilber and Payton's instruments combine well together. There is a hint of Soprano Summit here: Payton doesn't play the soprano but the two saxophones and/or clarinets merge tunefully. Payton's composition The Sage displays their togetherness on clarinets. Of course, Bob Wilber is also famous as a past master of the soprano sax, having learnt from Sidney Bechet. He is still playing with enviable fluency, even though he was 79 when this album was recorded. In fact I heard him in concert earlier this year and he was still playing with authority, albeit keeping his solos fairly short.

But there's a third star on this album: pianist Richard Busiakiewicz, whose solos are all elegantly constructed. He deserves to be much better known: he certainly has the talent, even though (like me) he has a difficult surname for people to deal with. In fact the whole British rhythm section keeps things moving, although Steve Brown's tentative rimshot clicks on No More Blues don't provide the necessary Latin drive. But Wilber's keening soprano makes up for any deficiencies on this track.

Despite his veteran status, Bob Wilber not only helps along younger players like Nik Payton but also - despite announcing his retirement some years ago - seems never likely to give up. It's a fact we should be grateful for.

Tony Augarde




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