Alto saxophonist Ken Stubbs combines his light, dry alto saxophone timbre with minimal accompaniment on a session for romantics. Working with guitar trio on two tracks, piano on two and the piano trio elsewhere, Stubbs weaves slowly in and around familiar standards. They’re lovely songs that recall lyrics and stories. Appropriately, Stubbs adapts his vocal-like phrasing to interpret each melody comfortably. It’s an album for sitting back, pouring yourself something useful and listening; while daydreaming about better days.
Cool and swinging with a light touch, the saxophonist surrounds himself with like-minded sensitive artists. Bios and relevant information, as well as a listen to “You Are Too Beautiful,” are available at Stubbs’ web site .
Representing an entire century of jazz, Ballads celebrates the warmth contained in song. Stubbs’ view of “swing” is conservative and subdued. His arrangements allow for adventurous improvising without any overt hint of passion. Rather, the session pulls from a world where cooler heads prevail. The warmth in Stubbs’ style is intended to be appreciated on a personal level. Rather than shout I LOVE YOU from the rooftops, the saxophonist prefers to whisper it in your ear. While his accompaniment appears musically uneven, Stubbs says it beautifully through his horn.