Italian pianist Roberto Magris pays tribute to one of the most unheralded and exceptional alto saxophonist of our time on An Evening With Herb Geller & The Roberto Magris Trio: Live In Europe 2009
, documenting the last recording before his passing in late 2013. A traditional old-style American saxophonist prominent as a West coast jazz master, Geller left the United States fifty-years ago after the death of his first wife and had been living in Hamburg, Germany making a living as a performer and educator. Inspired by the playing of Benny Carter
, Geller became a professional musician and adopted the playing style of Charlie Parker
and during his long distinguished career, performed with jazz icons such as Claude Thornhill
, Billy May
, Clifford Brown
, Dinah Washington
and Shorty Rogers
Pianist Magris first met Geller in 2003 and performed with him in many concerts and festivals throughout Europe as well as recording with him. On this album, Geller was still at the top of his game wielding the alto saxophone with style and grace. The date captures the late saxophonist in two live settings, where the first nine tracks come from a performance at the Novi Sad Jazz Festival in Serbia and the two bonus tracks stem from a concert in Vienna. Magris's trio with Nikola Matosic on bass and Enzo Carpentieri on drums, by supporting the saxophonist on this effort, actually wind up being a part of one of the finest quartets in Europe.
A traditionalist at heart, Geller preferred the music of the greats of jazz and so the repertoire here finds the altoist and band playing compositions from such legends as Cole Porter
, Benny Carter
, Zoot Sims}}, Billy Strayhorn
among others. Because this is a live project, before each song, Geller is heard introducing the number with informative commentary and perspectives on the pieces. This is a special album where all of the tunes are keepers, no fillers, each piece is outstanding from the opening Porter song "After You," to Johnny Mandel's "El Cajon," Sims signature "The Red Door" to Strayhorn's "Upper Manhattan Medical Group,"all deliver an equally potent charge.
While Geller is the centerpiece of the performance, pianist Magris, a master on the keys, is exceptional here leading the rhythm section in superb support of clearly, one of the all-time alto jazz saxophonist who leaves his mark on the genre. An Evening With Herb Geller & The Roberto Magris Trio: Live In Europe 2009
is truly a gem of a recording capturing an incredible performance by a jazz legend on the saxophone and one in the making on the piano.