Coco Schumann

Coco Now!

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This 1999 live date from Co Co Schumann stays far away from the exotica excesses that were such a big part of his career for 50 years and plays straight jazz. Schumann's guitar is backed by the gorgeous tenor playing of Karl Heinz Böhm, who also plays flute; Hans Schätzke on bass; and Sven Kalis on drums. The material is strictly journeyman: Duke's "Take the A-Train," Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind," Jobim's "One-Note Samba" and "Girl From Impanema," George Shearing's "Lullaby of Birdland," Johnny Mercer's "Autumn Leaves," and Lester Young's "Lester Leaps In" among them. Yep, it's as safe as it gets, and it's played that way, too. Nothing revelatory, nothing surprising even. And maybe after playing this music for 50 years you shouldn't have to do anything but play with your band and solo well. And that's what exists on this set: a well-rehearsed band playing mostly standards -- though there is a rousing version of Schumann's own "Stripper Blues" for drama -- and playing them flawlessly and intimately for a appreciative audience. There is a beautiful understatement about the entire record that creates warmth and familiarity in the listener. This is a humble set by a jazz guitar master who has nothing left to prove except to himself, and he's obviously enjoying the music-making on this set. It's solid if a bit sleepy.

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