Billy Novick

A Rose in the Desert

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Clarinetist and saxophonist Billy Novick had been a familiar presence on the Boston jazz and acoustic music scene for almost a quarter of a century when he recorded this very pleasant straight-ahead jazz album in 2001. Accompanied by fellow Boston-area stalwarts Paul Schmeling (piano), Marshall Wood (bass), and Billy Reynolds (drums) and joined on several tracks by the great Herb Pomeroy on trumpet, Novick bops and bounces through a largely predictable but very enjoyable program of jazz standards that includes such usual suspects as "What Is This Thing Called Love," "Stella by Starlight," and "You Don't Know What Love Is," but also features three very fine originals: a swinging and bluesy mid-tempo strut titled "Rabbit's Foot," the contemplative ballad "A Rose in the Desert Blooms," and the relatively brisk and broadly blues-based "Three Wishes." The band is completely in control and everyone plays with a polite sense of swing and an effortless ensemble tightness that one wishes would burst into spontaneous flame a bit more often, but only a curmudgeon would find fault. Recommended.

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