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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Black Nile




1.San Francisco Holiday (worry later) [5:44]
2.Think on Me [6:44]
3.Con Alma [7:24]
4.Rhythm-a-ning [5:02]
5.Ana Maria [6:27]
6.Black Nile [4:41]
7.I Waited for You [7:04]
8.Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues Are [7:42]
9.Black Nile (alternative take) [6:03]
10.I'll Keep Loving You [5:30]

Lorenzo Lombardo (drums), Cameron Brown (bass), Gary Versace (piano), Dick Oatts (alto saxophone tracks 4,7,8,9, soprano saxophone track 2, flute tracks 3,5)
Rec. December 5th 2010 at Tom Tedesco Studios, Paramus NJ, USA. [63:38]


I must say this is my favourite kind of jazz in which a whole bunch of standards are tweaked and given a new outing. On this disc we are presented with three of Monk's typically quirky and wholly original tunes, two of the great Wayne Shorter's numbers, two of Dizzy Gillespie's and one each by George Cables and Bud Powell - what pedigree! A really tight knit quartet (apart from track 1&10 in which it is a piano trio) these musicians really communicate and work together as equals to produce a beautiful album you'll be playing over and over again - guaranteed. It may be Lombardo's band and his vision that is brought about on this album but there is no attempt to dominate with each having his opportunity to showcase their undoubted talents. On track one Gary Versace shows himself to be easily able to replicate Monk's unique style of playing in which notes often seem at odds with each other as they don't follow an expected pattern or sequence but Gary is equal to the task and the disc is kicked off to a great start which later has Cameron Brown's great bass work relieving piano and Lombardo's drumming making his presence felt for the first time in a trio version of this great classic. Dick Oatt's silky-smooth soprano sax is introduced in track two after an intro from piano and drums and Cable's tune Think on Me is lovingly played to great effect with Versace's beautiful playing a particular highlight here alongside Oatt's mellifluous sounds. Dizzy Gillespie's Con Alma comes next which sees Oatts swapping saxes for flute and it works so well here it's hard to imagine where a trumpet would fit in. Versace's pianism is also to the fore and he certainly proves himself to be a great player and the recording picks him out in the best possible way. The rhythm section gives discreet support as the piano and flute are the real stars here. In track 4 we are back to the inspired quirkiness of Monk in which off keys are king and Oatts' alto sax is given its chance to shine for the first time and Brown's bass is also give an impressive solo spot. A return to the flute as star in Shorter's Ana Maria in a lovely version that emphasises all the subtleties of the tune, a facet of Shorter's writing that make his songs so memorable. The album's title track, another of Shorter's follows in another thoughtful version (that lasted nearer to 5:35 than the given time of 4:41), whilst Dizzie Gillespie's I Waited for You is presented in a really laid back, dreamy way that perfectly suits its loose, easy style. Making an ever welcome return is another of Monk's `fascinating rhythms' (can you possibly have too much of such a good thing?) in the shape of one I didn't know - the weirdly titled Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues are, but then a lot of his tunes' titles are, like the music itself is, different to say the least; who could forget Crepuscule with Nellie? An alternative take of Black Nile is the disc's penultimate offering but it's nice to have them both as each is an equally valid example of this great tune. The disc signs off with its other piano trio slot and the brilliant Bud Powell's I'll Keep Loving You which nicely rounds off in languid mood a really enjoyable disc that proves two things: how skilful these musicians are and how utterly timeless the tunes are and they are more than just well served here - they are expertly played by musicians that clearly love the repertoire. Lorenzo Lombardo has shown himself to be a band leader of note and more from him is eagerly awaited by this reviewer. Bravo!

Steve Arloff

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