IPO Records has become the jazz destination for seasoned jazz veterans. Saxophonist James Moody
(19252010) recorded his last two releases for the label: Moody 4A
(2009) and Moody 4B
(2010). Hard on Moody's heels is saxophonist Frank Wess
(1922- -2013) who followed his Magic 101
(2013) with the predictable titled Magic 201
. Pianist Kenny Barron
and drummer Winard Harper
hold over from the previous recording, augmented by bassist Rufus Reid
and guitarist Russell Malone
Six standards and two Wess originals fill out the recording taped in 2011. The performances are relaxed, reflecting a long life of music making. "It Could Happen to You" and "Embraceable You" are the apex of grace and swing. Wess goes solo on flute for "The Summer Knows," giving a master's class on space and time in performance. Wess waxes gut bucket on his "Blues for Ruby" a song complete with Russell Malone getting his Chuck Berry
on and ends on the breezy foreshadowing of "If It's the Last Thing I Do." Magic 201
is effortless and excellent in every way.
Personnel: Frank Wess: tenor saxophone, flute; Kenny Barron: piano; Russell
Malone: guitar; Rufus Reid: bass; Winard Harper: drums.