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

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To Fred Astaire With Love

Jazz Lips JL 765



1. Cheek To Cheek
2. They Can't Take That Away From Me
3. Easter Parade
4. A Shine on Your Shoes
5. I'm Putting all my Eggs in one Basket
6. They All Laughed
7. Be Careful, It's My Heart
8. I'm Old Fashioned
9. Isn't It a Lovely Day To Be Caught In The Rain
10. Top Hat, White Tie and Tails
11. Oh, That Kiss
12. With Time to Love
13. Looking at You
14. Old Folks
15. Liza
16. Here, There and Everywhere
17. Our Love is Here to Stay
18. Nobody Else but You
19. It's Like the Fourth of July
20. Everything's George

Ruby Braff - Cornet
George Barnes - Electric guitar
Wayne Wright - Rhythm guitar
Michael Moore - Bass (tracks 1-10)
John Giuffrida - Bass (tracks 11-20)

Bobby Short is credited with saying: "If Fred Astaire played cornet, he would aspire to sound like Ruby Braff". This is apt, as Fred's dancing had the same impeccable, graceful elegance as Ruby's cornet-playing. So it is fitting that Braff recorded these tunes (which are mainly associated with Fred Astaire) on two LPs in the mid-seventies. His chief colleague was guitarist George Barnes, with whom he formed this quartet in 1973, when tracks 11 to 20 were recorded.

Hearing George Barnes reminds me very much of the late-lamented Les Paul, whose guitar style Barnes duplicated in many ways. Barnes played with the same sort of staccato attack, frequently bending notes and favouring high-pitched sounds which penetrated the music. George's style sometimes seemed in contrast with Ruby's often mellower approach, but this contrast added piquancy to their work together. It also avoided the rhythm section of double bass and rhythm guitar from sounding stodgy, as could happen in such groups as the Hot Club of France.

Both Braff and Barnes were perfectionists who could be difficult to work with. Indeed, their quartet broke up in 1975, the year when the first ten tracks were recorded: their last album together. Yet musically they play harmoniously together, with Barnes accompanying Braff's solos supportively and leaving him either to state the themes, or sharing the theme statements with him (as they do throughout Easter Parade). Most of the tracks are short but they are like flawless cameos whose perfection we can readily admire.

Not all the tunes were connected with Fred Astaire. Braff and Barnes contribute an original each (respectively With Time to Love and It's Like the Fourth of July) and there is an enchanting performance of Lennon & McCartney's Here, There and Everywhere. A typically radiant Braff performance is on Our Love is Here to Stay - the sort of track you could hear a dozen times without tiring of its beauty. And the group could swing when required, as in Liza.

Ruby Braff refused to categorise music. He is quoted on the sleeve as saying "I've only ever had two labels. Either it's good or it stinks". This album is good - very good.


Tony Augarde

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