Time can rob a horn player of his/her chops, but it certainly doesn't have to be that way. Alto saxophonist Benny Carter and the late trumpeter Doc Cheatham, for example, were still playing their instruments remarkably well when they reached 90, had either of them retired at 70, it would have been a tremendous loss for jazz. Meanwhile, Ruby Braff's chops were still in top shape when he entered his 70s. The New England cornetist had recently turned 72 when, in March 1999, he recorded Cape Codfather, a pleasing swing date that employs Kenny Davern on clarinet, Tommy Newsom on tenor sax, Howard Alden on guitar, John Bunch on piano, Michael Moore on bass, and Kenny Washington on drums. Nothing groundbreaking occurs; the 72-year-old Braff of 1999 isn't much different from the young Braff of the 1950s, but then, Braff was never an innovator. Pre-bebop jazz is his area of expertise, and he plays it with a lot of soul and charisma. Well known standards like "As Time Goes By" and "My Melancholy Baby" dominate this CD; the only original that Braff provides is "Orange," a sexy, alluring piece with a strong Duke Ellington influence. While Cape Codfather falls short of essential, it's a rewarding example of a veteran musician continuing to excel by sticking with what he does best.
Cape Codfather Review
by Alex Henderson