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For the fifth in his Some of My Best Friends Are... series, master bassist Ray Brown has chosen guitar players as his playing companions. Joining Brown and his trio are six select string men running the gamut of styles and inclination from the straight ahead jazz of veteran Herb Ellis through the cool, blues inflected strumming of Kenny Burrell to the post and neo Bop offerings of Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius. In between there are the familiar names of Bruce Forman, Russell Malone and John Pizzarelli. Everyone is in good form for this session, especially John Pizzarelli with a swinging, improvisional "Tangerine". Bruce Foreman brings his bop and beyond style to his composition "Blues For Wes". In fact, there's more than one blues inflected tune on the list played by Ellis, Burrell and Wakenius. The offering by Burrell is in memory of another jazz legend, the recently departed Billy Higgins. Malone shows his sophisticated, subtle guitar on a laid back but saucy "Little Darlin". Brown has his regular trio with him and by this time they have no problem fitting right in with the smorgasbord of styles they are called upon to back during this series. Each track is a gem as one might expect on a session headed by Brown who has played with just about anyone who counts in jazz over a career that has spanned almost 60 years! This release is a four star effort of more than 65 minutes and is recommended.
Track Listing: Squeeze Me; I Want to Be Happy; Heartstrings; Blues for Ray; Fly Me to the Moon; The Song Is You; Little Darlin'; Blues for Junior; Tangerine; My Funny Valentine; Blues for Wes; Soulful Spirit
Personnel: Ray Brown - Bass; Geoff Keezer - Piano; Karriem Riggins - Drums; Kenny Burrell, Herb Ellis, Bruce Forman, Russell Malone, John Pizzarelli, Ulf Wakenius - Guitar
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.