Tommy Newsom

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Tommy Newsom spent such a long time in the Tonight Show Orchestra that jazz fans overlook his contributions. Finally recording regularly as a leader at the dawn of the 21st century, this solidly swinging tenor saxophonist has plenty to say on this studio session, which covers the music of several decades. Joined by veteran valve trombonist Bob Enevoldsen and a rhythm section including pianist John F. Hammond, guitarist Bob Bain, bassist Jim Hughart, and drummer Dave Hunt, Newsom's imaginative arrangements bring out the best in each track. The songs lean heavily toward the swing era, including an easygoing "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me," a lush "Star Dust," and a pulsating "Cotton Tail." But Newsom adds a cool-toned "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise" featuring a beautifully interwoven counter melody by Enevoldsen, a snappy take of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce," and a waltzing treatment of a song made famous on Sesame Street, "The Rainbow Connection," the latter which omits the horns. The musicianship of all parties is superb throughout this delightful session.

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