Nabil (Nobby) Totah has been a fixture on the Jazz scene in New York and elsewhere for almost half a century — I first heard him with the great Zoot Sims in the mid–’50s — but like most bassists, his opportunities to record as a leader have been scarce, which makes this partly–new release all the more welcome and appreciated. Partly new because seven of its eleven tracks were released in 1987 under the title Double Bass. The new selections, recorded in August 1997, are “With Every Breath I Take,” “Willow Weep for Me,” “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and “Only Trust Your Heart,” the last featuring guest artist Joe Carter on guitar. While Totah has marshaled enterprising colleagues in pianist Longo and drummer Mosca, this is clearly his gig, and Nobby’s resonant, deep–throated double bass is up close and personal throughout. His arco frames the melody on several tunes (“With Every Breath I Take,” “Caravan,” “My Foolish Heart,” “Lush Life,” “Only Trust Your Heart,” “My Romance”) and he does so pizzicato on “Laverne Walk,” “Subaru Mama” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.” When not out front, Totah’s unerring bass bonds firmly with Longo and Mosca to form a tightly–knit and exceedingly handsome fabric in which the trio enwraps its impressive musical concepts. Carter, sounding much like Charlie Byrd, adds color to the mix on “Only Trust Your Heart” while Longo and Mosca keep their usual flawless time. “With Every Breath I Take” is a modest surprise, as it isn’t the same tune sung many years ago by Frank Sinatra. This one is apparently a more recent ballad by Cy Coleman. While Longo, a seasoned pro who served as pianist and arranger for Dizzy Gillespie, is listed on synthesizer as well as piano, the synth is always kept at a discreet and tasteful distance and is never intrusive. Mosca, who has kept time for George Shearing, Billy Taylor and Oscar Peterson, among others, shows beyond a doubt why he was chosen for those assignments, complementing Longo and Totah at every turn. This is a convincing trio session led by an outstanding supporting player who has clearly earned and deserves his moment on center stage.
Laverne Walk; With Every Breath I Take; Willow Weep for Me; Caravan; My Foolish Heart; Subaru Mama; Lush Life; Only Trust Your Heart; I Just Called to Say I Love You; My Romance; I
Mike Longo, piano, synthesizer; Ray Mosca, drums; Nabil Totah, double bass; Joe Carter, guitar (on
The first jazz record I received
as a visiting gift from my
Japanese uncle at his
international division of
Toshiba EMI Tokyo was a
sample copy of Miles Davis'
Bitches Brew. A game
changer redirecting my
browsing habits and collection.