Willie Ruff

The Smooth Side of Ruff

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This is a very unusual date as it features Willie Ruff in a relatively rare date as a leader, instead of with his long time musical partner, pianist Dwike Mitchell. This date for Columbia is like many 1960s releases which are quite good but were lost in the shuffle due to the focus on rock, so it is doubtful that it remained in print for long. The opener "Sheffield Blues," is a small group session with Ray Brown, Ed Thigpen, Howard Roberts, and Emil Richards joining the leader, who only makes a rather understated appearance on French horn. Ruff makes two debuts on this record: as a singer in his Latin-flavored blues "Slim," and on Brazilian guitar in an overdubbed duet with French horn on his piece written for horn and concert band "Soundboard" and also "Mirage Blanc," a production dance number from a ballet Ruff composed (which also features Ruff on both guitar and French horn). Art Harris' arrangement of Claude Thornhill's "Snowfall" is provides the perfect backdrop for Ruff's French horn. Anyone who appreciates the increasingly hard to find small group recordings of the Mitchell-Ruff Duo should enjoy a chance to hear the very talented Willie Ruff in a wider range of small and large ensembles.

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