1. Linger Awhile
2. All My Life
3. Day In, Day Out
4. I'm Coming Virginia
5. I Know That You Know
6. Deed I Do
7. Clear Water
8. Medley: What Is There To Say?/Our Love is Here To Stay
9. The Darktown Strutters' Ball
Ruby Braff - Cornet
Chuck Wilson - Alto sax, clarinet
Howard Alden, Jon Wheatley - Guitars
Marshall Wood - Bass
Jim Gwin - Drums
Scott Robinson - Tenor sax (tracks 5-9)
Jon-Erik Kellso - Trumpet (tracks 6-9)
The sleeve-notes of this previously unreleased recording refer to Ruby Braff using medication for his emphysema, but there is little sign of failing powers in this album. It was recorded in 1998, after the sessions which produced the album Born to Play. The sleeve-notes statethat "For these final two days in the studio, Ruby wanted a more spontaneous approach". Fortunately sleeve-note writer Tom Hustad was able to watch a video which Mat Domber made of the whole session, helping Tom to describe the session in detail.
There is definitely an informal feel to this two-day session. Ruby
didn't use any arrangements but told the musicians what role to play
as the recording progressed. Ruby himself performs with his usual
charm and virtuosity, somehow making his solos flow by hinting at
a phrase before he plays it. At one point he says to the musicians
"Just do something beautiful" and that might sum up this
whole session. Highspots of his playing include the opening verse
of I'm Coming Virginia, which he improvises lyrically.
The informality can lead to a few glitches, as in I Know That
You Know, where the ensemble seems to lose its way as it approaches
the end. But the informality also has its advantages, since Ruby was
able to suggest phrases which the musicians could interpolate into
other tunes. This happens in Linger Awhile, where a phrase
used by Rex Stewart in a recording of the same tune is inserted at
various points in the performance. And Day In, Day Out begins
as if it is going to be Jumpin' at the Woodside. The Count
Basie connection is reinforced by the triplet ending.
Chuck Wilson is the ideal saxophonist alongside Braff. In fact his
sweet alto tone often seems comparable to Ruby's mellowness. Both
guitarists do sterling work throughout the session. Scott Robinson
and Jon-Erik Kellso came in on the second day of the recordings, with
Scott adding a fluent solo to I Know That You Know. Jon-Erik
Kellso didn't play on this track, but he solos well in Deed I
Do, influenced by the Braff tone and flow.
The spontaneity of the session is illustrated by the way that Braff
decides that the group will play Love Me Or Leave Me but
then turns its chords into an original entitled Clear Water.
What Is There To Say? blends remarkably well with Our
Love Is Here To Stay. The closing Darktown Strutters' Ball
is taken much slower than usual but this actually fits the tune better
than the hectic pace that usually turns it into a musical pile-up.
Most of the tracks last for six minutes or more, allowing the musicians to stretch out without pressure. The music sounds relaxed and beautiful - it is certainly easy on the ear.