The legend goes that Dizzy Gillespie once said "It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play." This quote came to mind while listening to Lynn Seaton's brilliant Puttin' on the Ritz, where careful choices create one of the tightest and most swinging trios around. There's no fluff or filler here and no ego parades: just crisp, tasty jazz where the arrangements are both lean and expressive. It's no surprise that Seaton's impressive resume includes a stint with the Basie bandthere's something of Basie's purity here, where nothing gets in the way of the swing.
The CD hits the ground running with "Bernie's Tune," which sets the tone of superb musicianship, warmed with humor. One example is Seaton's primal scatting on "Moanin'," which brings a smile as well as additional respect for his versatility. "Mood Indigo" is taken at a luxurious, stretching-cat tempo with a dollop of sly humor, the title track is alternately serious and whimsical as it races along (love Joel Fountain's commentary), and even "Gone with the Wind" is painted in lighter colors after Stephen Anderson's intriguing reharmonization.
One of Milt Hinton's five favorite bassists, Seaton's formidable gifts are always in evidence without dominating the music. He's created a seamless trio with superb chops and giant ears which tackles his creative arrangements with imagination and glee. For example, in "Nature Boy," the dynamics build and calm the tune with a near-organic inevitability. This group also liberates the spare, beautiful melody of "Londonderry Aire" from its often gooey sentimentality when sung as "Danny Boy." The session comes to a jubilant end with "Back Home in Indiana," leaving this listener wanting more.
Puttin' on the Ritz delivers its textured program with warmth, wit and soul, and also swings from beginning to end. It's a rare and happy combination. Highly recommended.
Bernie's Tune; Gone with the Wind; Mood Indigo; Pretending; Nature Boy; Moanin';
Londonderry Aire; Puttin' on the Ritz; Back Home in Indiana.
Lynn Seaton: bass, vocal; Stephen Anderson: piano; Joel Fountain: drums.
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