Randy Reinhardt

As Long as I Live

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A critic's job is to critique, and while that doesn't necessarily mean finding fault, it does mean that you're supposed to be able to hear the good and bad together and comment on both. The problem comes when an album is so consistently appealing that you have a hard time getting distance from its charms. That's exactly the problem with this live album from cornettist and trombonist Randy Reinhart, who coats every tune on this winning program of trad and swing standards with a tone so sweet and burnished that listening to it makes you feel like you're eating ice cream. The fact that his accompanists include clarinetist Kenny Davern, trombonist Dan Barrett, and pianist John Sheridan only adds to the difficulty of gaining critical distance. So suffice it to say that the band's charging rendition of "At the Jazz Band Ball" is a masterpiece of group-improv tension and release, that their ten- and 11-minute-long versions of "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me" and "Yellow Dog Blues" are too short, and that when Reinhart and Barrett switch instruments on "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" the only reason you notice is that their brilliance changes color slightly. And when you listen closely to the opening head on "As Long as I Live," you'll hear harmony work between the cornet, trombone, and clarinet that is liable to make you tear up. Innovative? Not in the slightest. Masterful, brilliant, inspiring? Absolutely.

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