Lennie Niehaus

Seems Like Old Times

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Even back in the 1950s when he was most active as an alto saxophonist, Lennie Niehaus' writing abilities tended to take precedence over his playing. Niehaus did not play all that much (certainly not on records) from the early '60s on, but in the mid- to late '90s, he once again became a more active performer. His original style was quite intact, but he had also continued to evolve with time. Niehaus is heard on this enjoyable CD at the peak of his playing powers. For the set, Niehaus, veteran tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins (switching on a song apiece to baritone and bass clarinet), baritonist Jack Nimitz (on six of the dozen tunes), pianist Frank Strazzeri, bassist Tom Warrington, and drummer Joe Labarbera perform four of the leader's originals and often-surprising renditions of eight standards. As outlined by Doug Ramsey in his fine liner notes, the two (or three) saxophonists often phrase together as one. Niehaus' own solos are friendly yet quite advanced, and his arrangements and frameworks tend to avoid predictability. Highlights include the title cut, "Invitation," "Yesterday's Gardenias," and "Star Eyes." Easily recommended.

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