Ralph Sutton

Sweet Sue

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A number of notable pianists who mastered stride emerged during the second half of the 20th century, but Ralph Sutton surely ranks among the top echelon, as proven on this live date focusing exclusively on music written and/or recorded by the great Fats Waller. Sutton's swinging group includes trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso, Brian Ogilvie (on tenor sax and clarinet), rhythm guitarist and humorous singer Marty Grosz, as well as bassist Dave Green and drummer Frank Capp. Sutton covers the obvious hits like the amusing "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," the moody "Black and Blue," which features Ogilvie's strong tenor and Kellso's powerful horn as bookends before and after the leader's solo, as well as a lengthy but never dull jam of "Honeysuckle Rose; " but the less frequently played numbers are treasures of equal value. The driving "Moppin' and Boppin'," co-composed by Waller with Benny Carter for the soundtrack of Stormy Weather, the rollicking "Lounging at the Waldorf," and the easygoing "Yacht Club Swing" are all examples of how a fine composer's work benefits when played by masterful musicians. Sutton not only delivers consistently powerful and swinging solos but serves as the consummate accompanist to back other's solos, too. Warmly recommended.

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