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Peter Welker - - And Friends: Paradise Is Awfully Nice (2002)

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New York native but San Francisco immigrant, trumpeter {$Peter Welker} is not exactly a household name. Although lacking deserved recognition, he has compiled an impressive resume as a sideman working with performers cutting across a wide swath of styles including Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Bob Dylan and Bread and Roses. On his second excursion as a leader, he shares billing with his "friends" who make up the band on this session. And what a set of friends! There's Herb Pomeroy and Ernie Watts as well as Grisman and Steve Smith. For more than an hour, they make big band music built around an engaging set of charts, excellent ensemble playing and imaginative solo improvisation. Just about everyone gets into the act. There's Randy Vincent's guitar on "In Your Own Sweet Way" complimenting Welker's muted horn. The arrangement is a bit unusual with the ensemble work slightly off center giving Brubeck's classic a different, contemporary touch. On "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," Welker shares trumpet center stage with the venerable Herb Pomeroy who supplies a haunting muted solo making this Strayhorn classic sound like background music for one of those shadowy Film Noire flicks. Pomeroy also takes a down and dirty plunger mute trumpet solo on "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You". Other arrangements are also off the beaten path. "Just Friends" opens with a bass solo by Mel Graves before Smith Dobson's piano takes over and "Chelsea Bridge" features a mandolin solo by Grisman. And it works!

The sum and substance of it all is that while familiar material dominates this CD, it's presented in such a way as to make it sound new without being quirky. This is good stuff and recommended. Visit Welker at his web page at www.peterwelker.com.


Track Listing: Paradise Is Awfully Nice; Sweet George; Chelsea Bridge; Just Friends; A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing; Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You; Detour Ahead; Nica's Dream; Born to Be Blue; In Your Own Sweet Way; Come Sunday

Personnel: Peter Welker - Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Piano/Leader; Michael Whitwell - Flugelhorn/Trumpet; Gus Klein - French Horn; Ren

Record Label: Peachy Productions

Style: Big Band


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