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Bill Cunliffe: Tomo (2005)

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Bill Cunliffe: Tomo No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Tomo is the second album on Torri honoring composer Reed Kotler, following last year's release of It's About Love by pianist/arranger Bill Cunliffe. Though little known outside San Francisco, Kotler is a modern composer who seems to have struck an appreciative chord with the Los Angeles-based Cunliffe.

As with It's About Love, the music on Tomo is gentle and relaxing. Offering a handsome set of twelve tunes, the group of saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Darek Oles, and drummer Mark Ferber evoke the softer sides of jazz, though always mindful of a jovial beat. The bop sensations of "All My Love's for You" begin the engagement with Sheppard's tenor highlighting the group's charm. The bossa nova-like "I Will Always Love You," "Did I Ask You If You Knew?" and "Someday, I Will Find Her" are more romantic pieces, with guitarist Koonse enjoying a prominent role in their seduction.

Here and with most of the album's content, there is a persistent, welcoming trait in Kotler's music—his nostalgia for the classic quintet sound of the '50s and early '60s. Pieces like "In a Restful Place," "It's Been a While," and especially "On a Warm Summer Night" seem plucked from a bygone era, a time solely available to us through the straight-ahead wonders of jazz. Cunliffe's arrangements and his gift for graceful executions, do great justice to Kotler's vision as well. The album's final piece, in particular, "Waltz for Gary," moves and enchants with an elegance that is the album's most prominent feature. Fans of Cunliffe's style will find great pleasures here.

Track Listing: All My Love's for You; Sweet Suzannah; I Will Always Love You; Did I Ask You If You Knew (That I Love You)?; Someday, I Will Find Her; In a Restful Place; On a Warm Summer Night; When I Look at You; Love's Such a Funny Thing; It's Been a While; Joyful Times; Waltz for Gary.

Personnel: Bob Sheppard: sax, flute; Larry Koonse: guitar; Bill Cunliffe: piano; Darek Oles: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.

Record Label: Torii Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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