Having favourably reviewed a recent album by the rhythm
section on this CD, I wasn't surprised to find that this album is
equally enjoyable. The leader is Antti Sarpila, a reedman from Finland
who deserves to be much better known. The album was recorded in New
York just after last year's "Valentine's Day Blizzard",
and the quartet is pictured suffering the heavy snow which made them
feel that they would like New York better in June than in February.
The CD opens with the Ralph Freed/Burton Lane tune
which inspired the ironic album title. But there is nothing chilly
about the playing on this track or any of the others. This is warm,
likeable jazz, with easy interplay between the four musicians, although
Ed Metz's drums are recorded so low in the mix that he is often only
noticeable when he takes solos - as he does with his customary skill.
Still, Nicki Parrott's unswerving double bass anchors the music firmly
as well as driving it along. Her solo on this opening track is typically
Antti Sarpila was a pupil of Bob Wilber, so it is understandable
that he is expert on a variety of reed instruments. His sound on the
soprano sax is reminiscent of Bob Wilber's Soprano Summit, and his
clarinet tone is pure and graceful.
The repertoire is a thoughtful mixture of familiar
tunes like Just One of Those Things, neglected items like Everything
Happens to Me and Whispers in the Dark, and a few originals
written by Sarpila (one with Sportiello). Three of the originals are
actually based on classical pieces. Moonlight on Germont borrows
Germont's aria from Verdi's La Traviata; Revolutionary Jump is
Rossano Sportiello's favourite take on Chopin's popular Revolutionary
Etude; and Swing ala Chopin is based on a Chopin waltz - with
nice Goodmanesque clarinet from Antti. Even Cheek to Cheek
begins with a quote from Chopin!
Antti's original Lesterity is a tribute to Lester
Young, based on the chords of I Got Rhythm and reflecting Lester's
style in Sarpila's lissom tenor sax. Antti's other original, Summer
Night, is a gentle evocation of nocturnal warmth caressed by
his breathy tenor, here sounding remarkably Websterish.
All in all, this is a delightful set of unpretentious
yet skilful, heartfelt jazz. My only complaint is that Ed Metz Jr.
deserves to be heard more clearly.