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King/Bluiett Trio: Makin' Whoopee

Joel Roberts By

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This thoroughly enjoyable album is a loose, funky tribute to the music of the Nat King Cole Trio by the great baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett. Using the same spare backing of just guitar and bass as the King Cole Trio, Bluiett covers familiar material from the Cole repertoire like "Sweet Lorraine," "Paper Moon," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," and even that Yuletide chestnut "The Christmas Song." A rousing and inventive version of "Route 66" is augmented with percussion and improvised comic narration.

An expansive and progressive instrumentalist, and a brilliant improviser, Bluiett plays it pretty straight-ahead here. This is a relaxed, unhurried effort in which the musicians take their time to explore the songs fully. Along with Keter Betts on bass and Rodney Jones and Ed Cherry on guitar, Bluiett captures the warmth and elegant simplicity of these classic Cole tunes.


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