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Saxophonist Dave Tofani sounds as if he'd fit right in with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, somewhere between Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster. That's the thought on hitting the play button on Nights At The Inn, to hear Tofani and his quartet swing hard into Duke's "Angelica." The banda working unit that has been doing a regular gig at the Deer Head Inn in the Poconos [United States] for the past yearhas a robust synergy as they duplicate their vibrant live set in the studio.
Tofani is a first-call musician with a resume that indicates versatility, as an accompanist for Quincy Jones, Natalie Cole, George Benson and Barbra Streisand, as well as pop acts like Steely Danhe performed on their Grammy-winning Two Against Nature (Giant Records, 2000)and John Lennon, on Double Fantasy (Capitol Records, 1980).
Nights At The Inn stays in mainstream jazz territory, though, presenting vibrant workouts of Ellingtons's "In a Sentimental Mood," showcasing Tofani's gorgeous, rich tone, Cole Porter's "What is This Thing Called Love?," Thad Jones' "A Child is Born" and the Kern/Hammerstein classic, "All The Things You Are."
The saxophonist's songwriting skills are also on display on the bouncy "Brushes on the Snare" and "You Caught Me," and create a high-energy highlight on "Trip to Madrid."
If you go out for a live set of jazz, this is what you want to hear: a sparkling, first-rate band with an impassioned saxophonist leading the way. Great mainstream sounds!
Track Listing: Angelica; Brushes on the Snare; A Child Is Born; You Caught Me; In a Sentimental Mood; Trip to Madrid; All the Things You Are; I Hear a Rhapsody; What Is This Thing Called Love; Violets for Your Furs.
Personnel: Dave Tofani: tenor saxophone; Jesse Green: piano; Evan Gregor: bass; Ronnie Zito drums; Steve LaSpina: bass (2, 8); Jack Wilkins: guitar (4, 6).
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.