Frank Wess

The Frank Wess Quartet

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Frank Wess has long been one of the most underrated flautists in jazz, but it's his primary instrument on this CD reissue of a Moodsville LP recorded in 1960. With fine accompaniment by piano master Tommy Flanagan, bassist Eddie Jones and drummer Bobby Donaldson, the leader's lyrical chops are evident in Alec Wilder's rarely performed ballad "It's So Peaceful in the Country." The light Latin setting of "Star Eyes" initially spotlights Flanagan's elegant piano, with the rhythm switching gears as Wess works his magic on flute. Flanagan alone introduces the dreamy interpretation of "But Beautiful," while Wess will melt any heart with his gorgeous flute solo. Wess is best known for his swinging tenor saxophone, heard on the richly textured "Gone With the Wind," a spacious "Stella by Starlight" (which will rival any saxophonist's recording for pure beauty), as well as his bluesy original "Rainy Afternoon," with Donaldson's light percussion possibly suggesting stepping in sidewalk puddles or windshield wipers clearing intermittent precipitation. Highly recommended.

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