Bob Acri

The Timeless

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Bob Acri attended Chicago's Austin High School, the institution that produced Bud Freeman, Jimmy McPartland, and Frank Teschemacher, all of whom were major players in the creation and development of the Chicago jazz style. Unlike his school's famous alumni, Acri had to wait until he was 82 before he got a chance to record. He made up for it in other ways. He held down the piano chair with the ABC/NBC Orchestra, appeared at such high-visibility Chicago watering holes as the Pump Room and worked with Carmen McRae and Barbra Streisand. Acri's program for this debut effort are his compositions, sometimes played solo, but mostly with a crew of highly skilled sidemen, including his sons handling drums and percussion. Neither Acri's playing nor his music are flamboyant. Like his career, they are calm, unassuming, and very musical. A variety of genres are incorporated into his pieces. There are three blues numbers, with "R.B. Blues" featuring some funky guitar by Ted Schmuldt. Latin rhythms get their due with "Bossa Nova Viejo" and "Linda Rose." There's polite swing, "Guess Who," again with Ted Schmuldt making a strong contribution. The guitar player gets in a couple of Western swing licks on "Tribute to Buddy." Acri's piano has the elegance of Teddy Wilson coupled with the lyricism of Bill Evans. He is especially thoughtful and pensive when he plays unaccompanied two very short romantic pieces, "Sleep Away" and "Chromabluze." It's really unfortunate and unfair that Acri had to wait so long to be recorded. And what's even sadder is that it's unlikely his very pleasant-to-the-ear compositions will ever be recorded by anyone else. But this album remains a tribute to his skills and is recommended.

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