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

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1975...And More

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19328


CD 1

The Soprano Summit

1. Swing Parade
2. The Mooche
3. Oh Sister, Ain't That Hot
4. Steal Away
5. Linger Awhile
6. Panama
7. Song of Songs
8. Swing Thirty-Nine
9. Egyptian Fantasy
10. The Fish Vendor
Kenny Davern - Clarinet, soprano sax
Bob Wilber - Clarinet, soprano sax
Marty Grosz - Guitar, banjo
George Duvivier - Bass
Connie Kay - Drums
CD 2

The Soprano Summit

1. Kansas City Stomp
2. Original Jelly Roll Blues
3. Froggie Moore
4. Shreveport Stomp
5. Sidewalk Blues
Kenny Davern - Clarinet, soprano sax
Bob Wilber - Clarinet, soprano sax
Marty Grosz - Guitar
George Duvivier - Bass
Connie Kay - Drums
Dick Hyman - Piano
The Blue Three

6. C. C. Rider
7. Fidgety Feet
8. Sweet Substitute
9. Shim-me-sha Wabble
Kenny Davern - Clarinet
Dick Wellstood - Piano
Bob Rosengarden - Drums
The Ruby Braff/Bob Wilber Session

10. Sugar
11. When You're Smiling
12. These Foolish Things
13. All of Me
14. Fine and Mellow
Ruby Braff - Cornet
Bob Wilber - Clarinet, soprano sax
Wayne Wright - Guitar
George Duvivier - Bass
Fred Stoll - Drums

When Bob Wilber appeared at the Swinging Jazz Party in Blackpool last year, he told the audience that he and the late Kenny Davern had the idea for Soprano Summit at a 1972 jazz party in Colorado Springs, where he and Kenny decided to enliven things by both playing soprano saxes. In fact the leaders of the group often played clarinets as well as soprano saxes, but it was the double sopranos which gave the band its special sound. The group was probably modelled on earlier sessions by Sidney Bechet and Mezz Mezzrow, who specialised in duetting on soprano sax and clarinet.

Soprano Summit lasted for much of the 1970s, and this album is a real find. It is taken from a previously unreleased set of live recordings formerly owned by the New Jersey Jazz Society, which gave the tapes to the Institute of Jazz Studies. The "And more..." in the album title seems like an understatement, as there is a great deal more. This double CD contains not only ten tracks recorded at a 1975 concert, but also five more from a tribute concert to Jelly Roll Morton (with Dick Hyman added), four by a trio led by Davern in 1979, and five by a 1976 quintet where cornettist Ruby Braff joined Bob Wilber in the front line.

Fans of Soprano Summit will obviously rush out to buy this album, but so should anyone who enjoys good jazz, well played. Wilber and Davern are/were masters of their instruments, and they are well served by the respective rhythm sections - especially Marty Grosz strumming guitar and banjo, and bassist George Duvivier supplying a solid foundation. Although the bands play many venerable numbers, there is nothing stodgy or dated in their delivery.

It is difficult to pick out highlights, as every track has particular delights. Shreveport Stomp includes adroit clarinet from Bob Wilber. The trio tracks on the second CD allow us to hear Kenny Davern's brilliant clarinet clearly, backed simply by piano and drums. And Ruby Braff's cornet shines on the last five tracks: playing the lead and soloing with mellow assurance, and combining in sympathetic harmony with Wilber. Just savour Braff's poetic reading of These Foolish Things.

If I have one slight caveat, it is to echo Kenny Davern's jokey remark: "There's nothing worse than a soprano saxophone, unless it's two of them". Two sopranos playing together can occasionally sound shrill, although both players are such consummate musicians that most listeners can ignore this. The recording quality is surprisingly good for these old tapes, which have been sensitively restored by Doug Pomeroy. So, what are you waiting for? Buy or order it now.

Tony Augarde

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