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Allan Vach: Ballads, Burners and Blues

J. Robert Bragonier By

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Arbors Records has done a yeoman’s job of preserving the classic jazz sounds of the ‘30s through ‘50s by supporting and recording the best of contemporary musicians playing in those styles. With this recent release, Arbors has succeeded once again.

Allan Vaché, the younger son of traditional jazz bassist and bandleader Warren Vaché, Sr. (Allan’s older brother is prominent cornetist/trumpeter Warren Vaché, Jr.), here surrounds himself with a group of close friends and exemplary musicians, and the good fun and delightful music that result reflects that warmth throughout. Four of the six musicians are between 45 and 50 years of age; pianist Mark Shane is 57, and the senior member, cornetist Ed Polcer at 66, probably plays the hardest, and hottest, music on the disc. In groups that range in size from two to six, including every number in between, and with a dozen tunes from 1910-1962 that range from traditional through swing, Latin and mainstream jazz to an R&B shuffle, the common ingredients are relaxed good humor and inextinguishable swing.

Vaché plays with a rich, woody sound and a rapid, feathery vibrato; in the highest range of the clarinet, his tone is just a bit thin and reedy, to my ear. In the interest of authenticity, I suppose, at least one rather arresting squeak has been retained, on “I’m Glad There Is You.” Vaché’s wife Vanessa is a classically trained clarinetist and music teacher; although her solo is a bit stiff, her contribution on Vaché’s one original composition is an unexpected treat, and I commend her good sportsmanship, sitting in like this with her husband. Barrett, Shane, Flanigan, and Metz are no strangers to those familiar with the Arbors “stable.” On the other hand, this is an Arbors debut for the previously mentioned Polcer, whose cornet provides a number of peak moments, and whose witty “jazz rap” on the opener provides a bit of novelty humor.

All in all, this CD provides more than 73 minutes of jazz music that is right down the center of the fairway. If you know Arbors Records, this is exactly what you’d expect; if you do not, and you enjoy well-played jazz of the classic variety, it’s time you get acquainted. This is as good a place as any to start.

Track Listing: The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me**; It Could Happen to You; Some of These Days; I

Personnel: Allan Vach

Title: Ballads, Burners and Blues | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Arbors Records

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