Joe Beck

Empathy

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This nearly 90-minute set featuring Joe Beck and Red Mitchell comes from a 1980 performance at the legendary New York nightclub Bradley's. Without rehearsal or anything in the way of preplanning, the guitarist and the bassist intuitively work their way through a mixture of time-tested standards and jazz classics, coming as close to musical perfection as is possible. Carl Perkins' "Grooveyard" is played softly rather than in its typical hard bop setting, while the swing classic "Soft Winds" retains only a hint of the original chord changes, taking on a more bluesy flavor in their adventurous take. Johnny Mandel's lovely ballad "Emily" seems forever associated with Bill Evans, though this compelling take makes its own mark. Three gems by Jimmy Van Heusen are included, including a lyrical "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," a fluid "Like Someone in Love," and an intricate "Darn That Dream." Recorded for the now-defunct Gryphon label, this recommended two-CD set has since been made available through the mail order label Jazz Heritage.

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