Nick Brignola

Things Ain't What They Used to Be: Last Set at Sweet Basil

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Baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola, who was influenced by Pepper Adams, had a flurry of activity late in his career, recording for several labels, particularly Reservoir. This disc was recorded during a live set in 1992 at Sweet Basil, featuring the leader with pianist Mike Holober, bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Dick Berk. The musicians were clearly relaxed and having a ball, stretching out playing favorites like the loping "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," a brisk samba treatment of the normally languid ballad "You Go to My Head" and an extended workout of Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way." But Brignola throws his audience a curve by switching to alto sax, clarinet and even soprano sax for individual features. It is hard to believe that the saxophonist showed no interest in the release of these performances, which were taped during the same sessions as Live at Sweet Basil-First Set. But with Brignola's death from cancer in early 2002, just as he was starting to gain recognition, label owner Mark Feldman made sure that this important music wasn't left to linger in the record vault and duly issued it the following year.

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