Franco D'Andrea

Angel Eyes (Forgotten Ballads)

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This duo date matches one of Europe's greatest jazz pianists, Franco d'Andrea, with alto saxophonist Larry Smith, a veteran musician honored by his peers for his work who still isn't very well known to the jazz audience. The CD's subtitle, Forgotten Ballads, seems a bit amusing, since virtually all of them remain very popular standards in the jazz world. D'Andrea is often the pianist of choice for giants such as Phil Woods or Lee Konitz when they come to play in Italy; his imaginative solos and supporting lines for alto saxophonists give a fresh look to many of these old chestnuts. Smith's style is a lot like that of Phil Woods, though his lines aren't quite as fluid and tend to be cut shorter; his consistently strong playing merits greater attention than he has received. The percussive take of "Angel Eyes" has a loping quality, while an extended workout of "Willow Weep for Me" begins with a dazzling solo by d'Andrea before Smith's emotional horn joins in. One minor production error is that most of the songs are listed out of sequence; track eight ("Almost Like Being in Love") is actually at the start of the CD, throwing off the numbering for all except the last two tracks. This is another fine date from the Italian label Philology, which seems to specialize in covering musicians who deserve greater recognition.

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