Frank Wess Nonet: Once Is Not Enough (2009)
Among the members of the Frank Wess Nonet are trumpeters Terell Staffordand Frank Greene, trombonist Steve Turre, altoist Ted Nash and baritone/bass saxophonist Scott Robinson, with bassist Peter Washington, pianist Gerald Clayton and drummer Winard Harper rounding out the rhythm section. Guests Michael Weiss (piano) and Rufus Reid (bass) sub for Clayton and Washington, respectively, on two tracks.
Though well established as a premier flautist, Wess has also made his mark as a Lester Young-influenced tenor saxophonist; it is as a sax man that he predominates here, though he also plays flute on selected tracks. The "magic" begins right off the bat on the opening title pieceone of four arranged by drummer Dennis Mackrela swinging bebop burner showcasing Wess on the lead backed up by the five-piece horn section that relinquishes the stage to Robinson's lively baritone voice. The swinging sounds continue on "Sara's Song," where Turré's trombone emerges as the first soloist, setting up strong bass work from Washington, and Harper's rumbling pounding of the drums, all bolstered by superb background horns.
There's more of the same on the perky "You Made A Good Move," another Wess original where the saxophonist leads the music with a regal solo performance. All is not swing, however, as the leader provides mellow music with the light original, "Dementia, My Darling," dedicated to his granddaughter, Nicole; Wess leaves the original ensemble format, preferring a quartet that features guests Weiss and Reid. Employing this same quartet setting, Wess delivers a second ballad with his creative arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's time-honored classic, "Lush Life."
Wess takes to the flute on two of the three standards offered here ("Sweet and Lovely," and "Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)"), demonstrating his skills on the instrument that forged the prominence he so richly deserves.
It's easy to understand why Frank Wess would title this album Once Is Not Enough, as it clearly refers to the superlative charts and world-class cast of players that make listening to this session only once merely one fix in a lifelong addiction to such fine music.
Track Listing: Once Is Not Enough; Sara's Song; You Made A Good Move; Dementia, My Darling; Sweet And Lovely; Backfire; Lush Life; Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words); Tryin' To Make My Blues Turn Green.
Personnel: Frank Wess: tenor saxophone, flute; Frank Greene: trumpet; Terell Stafford: trumpet; Steve Turre: trombone; Ted Nash: alto saxophone, flute; Scott Robinson: bass saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute; Gerald Clayton: piano; Michael Weiss: piano (4, 7); Peter Washington: bass; Rufus Reid: bass (4, 7); Winard Harper: drums.
Record Label: Labeth Music