Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Richie Cole: Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs

12

Richie Cole: Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs

By

Sign in to view read count
Richie Cole: Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs
Alto saxophonist Richie Cole has made quite the career with his brand of hard bop, generally coming at melody almost as an unintended consequence of his heavy focus on improvisational interpretation.

On his latest release—itself an unintended consequence of a recording date arriving without half the scheduled musicians able to attend—Cole taps into his inner Johnny Hodges. Caressing, gentle, lush, it is a side of Cole that's never been explored over a full album before.

The same man who turned the almost decadent "Moody's Mood" into a post-modern experiment on a 1975 album, who four years later took "Hooray for Hollywood" into a nearly unrecognizable orbit, whose often hectic playing earned him the sobriquet of "Alto Madness," here embraces pure melody like he rarely has before. The focus of "Plays Ballads & Love Songs" is on richness of tone, on holding a note until it's almost too late, on a nearly vocal approach to each song.

On the opening track, "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," Cole's lead is, well, practically leisurely—an adjective rarely used to describe his playing. Rather than charging ahead, he sits back, following just behind the beat—it is relaxed, in fact.

Now, fairness demands we point out that none of this is complete surprise or even wholly out of character for Cole. On his 1992 outing, "PopBop," he even had strings behind him on some pretty traditional arrangements of "Spanish Harlem" and "When You Wish Upon a Star." (Of course, he also had a rock-infused bop version of "La Bamba," and an appropriately Monk-ish reading of "Straight, No Chaser" on that album.) He's shown a nice touch on ballads here and there throughout his recording career.

What sets Plays Ballads & Love Songs apart, though, is having an entire album consistently in a down tempo vein.

A huge part of the charm—and success—for this unexpected foray into an extended after-hours vibe has to be credited to guitarist Eric Susoeff. Playing with a relaxed late-night feel and a big fat tone, reminiscent of Barney Kessel, Ed Bickert or Garrison Fewell, Susoeff's sympathetic openings on "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "Alfie" and "Chances Are" set the table perfectly for Cole's subsequent leads. And when Susoeff solos, it builds on what Cole laid down, complementing it in spirit and approach. He is a near-perfect foil for Cole here.

The rhythm section of bassist Mark Perna and drummer Vince Taglieri is likewise elegant and swinging, creating a smart, sophisticated canvas for Cole and Susoeff.

Cole does show a touch of his Alto Madness persona on "Sunday Kind of Love," storming out in the first bar. But where a more typical Cole arrangement would have used that as a springboard to ever more distant extrapolations, here he brings it back—not dialing back the energy nor the creativity, but keeping the melodic theme of the song more intact, more the focus.

Overall, it is a delightfully different outing from Cole, an album that should become a favorite despite running against the grain of his career.

Track Listing

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; Second Time Around; Sarah; The Internationale; Chances Are; Alfie; Emily; Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered; It's Magic; That Sunday, That Summer; Sunday Kind Of Love.

Personnel

Richie Cole
saxophone, alto

Richie Cole: alto saxophone; Eric Susoeff: guitar; Mark Perna: bass; Vince Taglieri, drums.

Album information

Title: Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Silent, Listening
Fred Hersch
Riley
Riley Mulherkar
3 Works For Strings
Giusto Chamber Orchestra
My Multiverse
Pearring Sound

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.