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Frank Wess: Magic 201

C. Michael Bailey By

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Frank Wess: Magic 201 IPO Records has become the jazz destination for seasoned jazz veterans. Saxophonist James Moody (1925—2010) recorded his last two releases for the label: Moody 4A (2009) and Moody 4B (2010). Hard on Moody's heels is saxophonist Frank Wess (1922- -2013) who followed his Magic 101 (2013) with the predictable titled Magic 201. Pianist Kenny Barron and drummer Winard Harper hold over from the previous recording, augmented by bassist Rufus Reid and guitarist Russell Malone.

Six standards and two Wess originals fill out the recording taped in 2011. The performances are relaxed, reflecting a long life of music making. "It Could Happen to You" and "Embraceable You" are the apex of grace and swing. Wess goes solo on flute for "The Summer Knows," giving a master's class on space and time in performance. Wess waxes gut bucket on his "Blues for Ruby" a song complete with Russell Malone getting his Chuck Berry on and ends on the breezy foreshadowing of "If It's the Last Thing I Do." Magic 201 is effortless and excellent in every way.


Track Listing: It Could Happen to You; A Cottage for Sale; After Paris; The Summer Knows; Embraceable You; Blues for Ruby; If You Can't Call, Don't Come; If It's the Last Thing I Do.

Personnel: Frank Wess: tenor saxophone, flute; Kenny Barron: piano; Russell Malone: guitar; Rufus Reid: bass; Winard Harper: drums.

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: IPO Recordings | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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