Bruce Abbott

Moonlight & Sax

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Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Stan Getz, among others, had a yen to be recorded with strings. There's nothing like a tasteful string section playing tasteful arrangements to set off the lyricism of a sax and to provide a sentimental backdrop for classic standards. Violins, violas, and cellos all provide a cushion for the saxophonist to engage in improvisations that highlight the dulcet qualities of excellent songs. That's exactly what happens on Bruce Abbott's second romantic sax album for the North Star label. All of the 11 tunes on the play list are ballads, which Abbott plays on tenor, alto, and soprano in an entirely engaging but not melancholy or saccharine fashion. Moreover, the arrangements are sufficiently absorbing, such as a lilting "Fly Me to the Moon," so as to keep one's attention. In addition to the Woodvale String Quartet, Abbott gets help from fellow members of the North Star Jazz Ensemble, Ron Fournier, Paul Mason, and Marty Ballou. The sheer beauty of the playing on this CD recalls the Jackie Gleason albums of the 1950s and 1960s, when he placed such top jazz artists as Bobby Hackett and Lawrence Brown in front of his large orchestra to play top pop classics. While not as grandiose or pretentious as those efforts, and considerably more jazzy, Abbott and friends remind listeners that jazz can be pretty and provide many minutes of relaxation as well as be swinging, modern, and dashingly syncopated. This album of good music, flawlessly and intelligently performed, is highly recommended.

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