The Mitchell-Ruff Duo

Jazz for Juniors

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The idea behind this LP by pianist Dwike Mitchell and bassist/French horn player Willie Ruff was to expose high-school students to jazz, including performances of mostly familiar pieces and lectures by Ruff between numbers, as well as questions and answers from the audience. As a result, this album is a good introduction to young people unfamiliar with jazz, but it is hard to listen to more than once without repeatedly having to pick up the stylus to skip to the next performance. One highlight is when the duo takes a theme played on piano by a student and improvises upon it. In all fairness, the Mitchell-Ruff Duo has conducted jazz workshops around the world since this record was released, with Ruff even teaching himself Russian and Chinese to communicate with overseas audiences. So their efforts at jazz education deserve high marks, even though this long-unavailable disc would be easier for seasoned jazz fans to enjoy if it were only straight performances without the spoken interludes.