Jimmy Amadie

Live at Red Rock Studio: A Tribute to Tony Bennett

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Jimmy Amadie has overcome the handicap of a severe form of tendonitis, which limits his playing to a handful of tunes every few months. His fourth CD for TPR was recorded over a period of seven months, and this veteran jazz educator obviously has what it takes to dazzle not only the public but his fellow musicians. After utilizing bassist Steve Gilmore and drummer Bill Goodwin (long associated with Phil Woods), the invitation went out to the veteran alto saxophonist to join the trio for one session, which was quickly accepted. Three of the four pieces that feature Woods are originals by Amadie, starting with the strutting bop vehicle "The Thought of Losing You." The guest seems like he is still getting comfortable with this new work, as there are a couple of runs that don't come off quite as cleanly as one would expect. But Amadie doesn't have the luxury of multiple takes due to the strain on his hands. Everything jells nicely in the ballad "Baby Blue," with Amadie and Woods complementing one another with lush phrases. The smoking "Phil the Woods With Music" was obviously written with Woods in mind, who sounds as if he's playing it for the hundredth time instead of the first. The one standard by the quartet is a driving take of "This Can't Be Love," where Woods really opens up with a playful solo, followed by the leader's delicate but swinging offering. The roles of Gilmore and Goodwin are more prominent in the trio tracks. Their intriguing introduction to "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" sets up Amadie's inventive solo. "Stella By Starlight" is generally played at brisk tempos, but Amadie slows it down, adding a somewhat unusual bittersweet introduction and a bit of dissonance in spots suggestive of Thelonious Monk. The pianist's playful interpretation of "The Very Thought of You" gives new perspective to this decades-old standard. It must be frustrating for such a gifted jazz musician to have to limit his playing, but it never comes across in this outstanding release.

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