Richard Simon

Pacific Standard Time

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This is a particularly enjoyable outing, a trio set by Sam Most, guitarist Al Viola, and bassist Richard Simon. Most, a pioneering jazz flutist from the early '50s, plays flute on four of the nine songs, switches to clarinet for two, takes two songs on tenor, and just sings on "Route 66." Flute remains his best ax, but his clarinet is fluent on "It Could Happen to You," his soft-toned tenor is fine, and Most's singing (which is also heard on "As Time Goes By"), which is practically whispered, is personable and full of inventive scatting. Al Viola, famous for playing guitar in his career with the Page Cavanaugh Trio, Frank Sinatra, and in the Hollywood studios, is heard still in his prime after over a half-century in the major leagues. His chord voicings are quite sophisticated and subtle, and he is equally talented as a soloist and as an accompanist. With Richard Simon offering swinging support and some brief solos of his own, this is a stellar date. All of the nine songs are quite familiar, and the reservation one might have is that "On Green Dolphin Street" and "As Time Goes By" have been recorded too often through the years. But the appealing flute-guitar-bass trio makes each of these songs sound practically new and is a delight from start to finish. Highly recommended.

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