All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Frank Wess: Magic 101

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Most musicians can't escape the ravages of time, but a select few seem to have taken a sip from the musical fountain of youth. The late Hank Jones, for example, played with brilliance and class until the day he died at the age of 91, and octogenarian drummer Roy Haynes continues to snap and crackle in all the right places, demonstrating unmatched originality and agility as he approaches the big nine-o. Saxophonist/flautist Frank Wess is another such figure. Wess, who made an indelible impression on the music during his tenure with the great Count Basie and went on to record with everybody from composer/arranger/saxophonist Oliver Nelson to Jones, is a living jazz legend. His legacy is written in the grooves of numerous classic recordings and, like Haynes and Jones, he refuses to let a number like his age dictate anything; Magic 101, recorded in 2011 when Wess was 89 years young, makes that clear.

This seven-song program, featuring a polished quartet that includes pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Winard Harper, is unique for its balladic leanings and lack of flute; the elder statesman of that instrument doesn't touch it once here. Wess, instead, sticks exclusively to his tenor, while exploring the slower side of jazz.

The program begins with a swinging "Say It Isn't So," but immediately takes a turn toward the reflective with "The Very Thought Of You," which serves as the start of the ballad run. Two duets with Barron—Wess' own "Pretty Lady" and a "Come Rain Or Come Shine," that's coated with a bluesy patina—follow before the full personnel returns for a slow, twilit "Easy Living."

The slow-and-sly "Blue Monk" that follows brings sturdy swing back into the picture, but its appearance is fleeting. The album ends with a solo saxophone take on Ellington's "All Too Soon." Wess works his way into the very heart and soul of the song, demonstrating a grasp on the art of musical alone time that few will ever possess.

Magic 101 is a top-to-bottom charmer; here's to hoping that Wess stay around for a while longer and continues to make music like this.

Track Listing: Say It Isn’t So; The Very Thought of You; Pretty Lady; Come Rain or Come Shine; Easy Living; Blue Monk; All Too Soon.

Personnel: Frank Wess: tenor saxophone, flute; Kenny Barron: piano; Kenny Davis: bass; Winard Harper: drums.

Title: Magic 101 | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: IPO Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Magic 201

Magic 201

IPO Recordings
2014

buy
Magic 101

Magic 101

IPO Recordings
2013

buy
Magic 201

Magic 201

IPO Recordings
2013

buy
Once Is Not Enough

Once Is Not Enough

Labeth Music
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Lucille" CD/LP/Track Review Lucille
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Don't Blink" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Blink
by David A. Orthmann
Published: October 5, 2017
Read "Zea" CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Red Planet" CD/LP/Track Review Red Planet
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 2, 2018
Read "Sing House" CD/LP/Track Review Sing House
by Jerry D'Souza
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "Book Of Sound" CD/LP/Track Review Book Of Sound
by Gareth Thompson
Published: December 8, 2017