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Bill Cunliffe/Gary Foster: It's About Love

Dan McClenaghan By

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The genius of this teaming of pianist Bill Cunliffe and saxophonist Gary Foster on It's About Love is their ability to play jazz that evokes images of dapper men decked out in gleaming tuxedos, elegant bejewled ladies draped in sparkling evening gowns, all sipping from long-stemmed glasses of bubbly champagne. Classy sounding stuff. And Bill Cunliffe is on a roll. Last year's How My Heart Sings (Torii Records), a sextet recording featuring the songs of the overlooked tunesmith Earl Zindars, moved right up the JazzWeek Radio Jazz Charts, and it still holds (as of Feb. 20) the #41 position. Now, in a quartet mode, Cunliffe offers up something of a followup to ...The Music of Reed Kotler (Torii, 2002), with another all-Kotler set.

Reed Kotler writes songs that sound like standards, in the mode of the tunes by Van Heusen/Kahn and Cole Porter, full of smooth-flowing rhythms behind lovely, memorable melodies that seem to cry out for lyrics. Gary Foster's sax stylings lean toward the cool end; Paul Desmond, of the classic Dave Brubeck quartet, comes to mind when he blows the alto horn. And Cunliffe's piano work has a true sparkle to it.

This was a session without the benifit of reheasal time, and arrangements were ad libbed in the studio, but the polish on top of the spontaneity here speaks volumes for the professionlism of the musicans. They created, in a quartet setting, a truly elegant sound. Almost every song has the feel of the romantic side of the Great American Songbook, with the closer, "Duck's Time," sounding like something updated from Charlie Parker.

Classy stuff.

Track Listing: At the End of the Day, I've Been Thinking of You Lately, Where Do I Go From Here?, Nine Steps, I Can't Forget, Spring is Near, Thank You Lord,Amen!, Song for Bill C., Cool Walk, Love is in the Air, Thoughts of You, Duck's Tune, Forever.

Personnel: Gary Foster, tenor and alto sax; Bill Cunliffe, piano and arrangements; Jeff D'Angelo,bass; Tim Pleasant,drums

Title: It's About Love | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Torii Records

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