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Album Review

Mundell Lowe / Lloyd Wells / Jim Ferguson: Poor Butterfly

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Mundell Lowe / Lloyd Wells / Jim Ferguson: Poor Butterfly
Few people could ever claim to have played and/or recorded with such a storied list of performers as Sarah Vaughan, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Blossom Dearie, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, and Lester Young. But Mundell Lowe can. In fact, that list barely scratches the surface when it comes to the legends that Lowe has worked with over the course of his lifetime. At ninety-three years of age he's now a legend himself, standing tall as the elder statesman of jazz guitar, serving as a link to the past, and living in the present.

With Poor Butterfly Lowe shows that his warmth, taste, intelligence, and technique are still fully intact. He teams up with a pair of musicians that he's worked with in duo settings in the past—guitarist Lloyd Wells, who worked side-by-side with Lowe on This One's For Charlie (Azica, 2000), and bassist Jim Ferguson, Lowe's duo partner on Haunted Heart (LDM, 2007)—and delivers a collection of classics-in-miniature. Nothing breaks the five-minute mark—more than half the songs clock in under three minutes—and there's no wasted notes or passages. These three play to the song, say what needs to be said, and simply move on.

While certain traits carry through a number of these songs—four-to-the-bar Freddie Green-esque rhythm strumming, concise single-note statements—each piece offers its own reward(s). There's a pleasantly cruising "My Shining Hour" for three, a beautifully-rendered Wells solo take on "Here's That Rainy Day," a sleepy and flowing "Poor Butterfly" for two guitars, a brief and moving "I'll Never Be The Same" that finds Lowe alone, and an album-ending Wells original that serves as a vocal feature for Ferguson. The configuration constantly changes from track to track, with three trio numbers, three solo pieces per guitarist, and three guitar duo performances in the mix, but everything is sonically and stylistically of a piece here. Poor Butterfly is a short-and-sweet collection of music with no shortage of elegance and grace.

Track Listing

Line For Lyons; Poor Butterfly; I Loves You, Porgy; Here's That Rainy Day; My Shining Hour; I'm Through With Love; Alice In Wonderland; Last Night When We Were Young; For All We Know; I'll Never Be The Same; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Uncle John.

Personnel

Mundell Lowe: guitar; Lloyd Wells: guitar; Jim Ferguson: bass, vocals (12).

Album information

Title: Poor Butterfly | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Two Helpins' O' Collards

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