The harp makes one of its rare appearances in jazz in the hands of Carol Robbins on Jazz Play. She also wrote several of the tunes on this recording and included some standards. And where does that place the music? Right in the mainstream, with some softer shades of what is known as contemporary jazz. The introduction of the latter causes no damage; the soothing waft it brings in is pleasant enough, without detracting from the core.
One of the tunes which gets this treatment is "The Meaning of the Blues. Robbins shades it in pastel colours, while guitariwst Larry Koonse adds to the ambit, picking notes that fall softly and gently, the whole lifted by a percussive bed. The mood is upbeat on "Buddy's Bite, with Steve Huffsteter chomping down on the tenor sax and etching a deep line. Koonse once more shows a sense of harmonics which gives a song a beckoning dynamic, with Robbins adding a lilting Latin melody. While this swings nicely, "Darcy's Waltz comes in on the one-two-three with Bob Sheppard on the tenor saxophone opening the melody delectably and laying the path for Robbins to add her own beguiling imagination, making this one of the better tunes on the set.
Jazz Play is just right for a relaxed evening.
Buddy's Bite; O Grande Amour; Still Light; The Meaning of the Blues; Darcy's Waltz; Tangier; Emilia; Don't Look Back; The Cribbler; Skating in Central Park; Sollevare; I'm Old Fashioned; Sambolero.
Carol Robbins: harp; Larry Koonse: guitar; Bob Shappard: soprano and tenor saxophones; Steve Hufstetter: trumpet and flugal horn; Derek Oles: bass; Tim Pleasant: drums.
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