Ira Sullivan and Stu Katz: A Family Affair (2011)
Recorded live in Chicago over the course of four nights, A Family Affair is one for the ages, an extremely satisfying recording at one of the country's most venerable institutions. Multi-instrumentalist Sullivan is in fine form, sounding as energetic as a player half his age, but with a subtleness and tastiness in his phrasing that can only come from decades spent on the bandstand. Katz is outstanding as well, on both vibes and piano. The duo has a crew of hometown aces as sidemen, including pianist Dan Trudell, tremendous bassist Dennis Carroll, and drummer George Fludas.
The set list consists of mainly standards, most of the medium- to up-tempo swing variety, but the most interesting moments of the record are the ballads, and the lesser-worn tunes. "Lullaby of the Leaves" is simply scrumptious, as is "Yesterdays," featuring a fine vocal turn by Lucia Newell. The arrangements aren't the tightest and some of the endings are dragged out a bit too longoften a setback of live recordingsbut Sullivan and Katz can certainly be forgiven for languishing in each other's company for all these years. Here's to many more.
Track Listing: Blues Two Views; Gee, Matthew; Pennies from Heaven; Scrapple from the Apple; Lullaby of the Leaves; Yesterdays; Take the A Train; Stablemates; What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
Personnel: Ira Sullivan: tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, trumpet, fluegelhorn; Stu Katz: vibraphone, piano (3); Dan Trudell: piano; Dennis Carroll:acoustic bass; Steve Katz: acoustic bass (7); George Fludas: drums; Lucia Newell: vocal (6).
Record Label: Origin Records