Johnny Varro


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Pianist Johnny Varro came closer that anyone in the '90s to play in the flawless swing style of Teddy Wilson. Varro's occasional combos (the one on this CD is called the "Swing 7") are very much in the idiom of late '30s prebop music. Varro, tenor saxophonist Tommy Newsom, Ken Peplowski (on clarinet and his rarely heard alto), trombonist Dan Barrett, trumpeter Randy Sandke, bassist Frank Tate and drummer Joe Ascione perform a variety of '30s and '40s material plus Varro's "Afterglow" and "One for Todd." Although some of the arrangements are reminiscent of John Kirby's Sextet (particularly "Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider," "Humoresque" and Charlie Shavers' "Front and Center"), other groups hinted at are Duke Ellington's small combos, Count Basie and the Dave Pell Octet. The 15 performances include quite a few gems and this is a highly enjoyable example of latter-day small-group swing.

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