2

Frank Wess: Magic 101

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Frank Wess: Magic 101 In 2007, saxophonist and flutist Frank Wess was named NEA Jazz Master, and Magic 101 amply demonstrates why. This mellow session covers six standards and a Wess original, with a candid and unadorned style that is nevertheless powerful in its apparent simplicity.

Like a wise raconteur, the 89 year-old (at the time of the recording) icon embellishes the melodies with wit and erudition. His cool, big-toned tenor weaves flowing lines in muted color around the rhythm section's languid beats and chimes on "Easy Living." Pianist Kenny Barron's nocturne-esque solo closes the tune with a subtle yet sublime fantasy.

Barron's stylings on the melancholic "Come Rain Or Come Shine" are in the spirit of older, ragtime-based players with a distinctly contemporary edge. The duet recital features Wess' deeply resonant sax intricately elaborating on the theme in a laidback ad-lib conversation with his accompanist.

Wess' energetic spontaneity on "Blue Monk" is full of humor and soul and his complex and intelligent improvisation keeps the superlative trio on its proverbial toes. Supporting Barron's precise, exquisite and stimulating pianism are bassist Kenny Davis' sophisticated swagger and drummer Winard Harper's propulsive gusto. Davis also showcases his lyrical side on the exuberant and swinging "Say It Isn't So" with a series of elegant and fluid pizzicato bars.

The sole original "Pretty Lady" is a lilting ballad with Wess stretching out with a poetic flair and wistful romanticism. In addition to being a validation of Wess' legendary compositional skills it also allows Barron to channel Harlem stride masters albeit with a refined modernity.

This delightful album closes with an unaccompanied take of pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington's "All Too Soon." Wess transforms the standard into a nostalgic, cerebral soliloquy that is crisp and evocative.

At the cusp of his tenth decade of life, Wess has not only lost none of his musical acumen, he has imbued it with a mature savior faire peppered with joyful abandon. Hopefully he will continue to produce raw and dazzling gems like this well into his 90s.


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.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: IPO Recordings | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Related Video

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker
sax, alto
Dave Brubeck Dave Brubeck
piano
Count Basie Count Basie
piano
Lester Young Lester Young
saxophone
Stan Getz Stan Getz
sax, tenor
Art Pepper Art Pepper
sax, alto
Ben Webster Ben Webster
sax, tenor
Zoot Sims Zoot Sims
sax, tenor
Jimmy Giuffre Jimmy Giuffre
clarinet
Jackie McLean Jackie McLean
sax, alto
Clark Terry Clark Terry
trumpet

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Instants Of Time" CD/LP/Track Review Instants Of Time
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 4, 2016
Read "Echoes From Rudolph's" CD/LP/Track Review Echoes From Rudolph's
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2016
Read "The Volume Surrounding the Task" CD/LP/Track Review The Volume Surrounding the Task
by John Eyles
Published: July 6, 2016
Read "Heavy Weather" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Weather
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Stephan Crump's Rhombal" CD/LP/Track Review Stephan Crump's Rhombal
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "Plays New Zealand" CD/LP/Track Review Plays New Zealand
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!