Gabe Baltazar

Birdology

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Considering his talent, it is surprising that altoist Gabe Baltazar has recorded so infrequently through the years. Much of it is due to him living in Hawaii, but fortunately, Baltazar's visits to the mainland have become more common in the 1990s. This quartet set with pianist Frank Strazzeri, bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Nick Martinis finds the boppish altoist in peak form. His heated "Birdology 101" mixes together excerpts of several Charlie Parker lines into a coherent song, Baltazar digs into some ballads (including the haunting "Autumn Nocturne," Hoagy Carmichael's "One Morning in May" and a rare outing on clarinet on "Memories of You") and cooks hard on most of the other selections. His definitive CD, this set is available from the Spanish Fresh Sound label.

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