Both saxophonist Fred Haas and bassist Michael Moore have recorded excellent duo CDs with guitarist Gene Bertoncini. On Telling Stories, the twos become a three, with Haas doubling on sax and piano and supplying all the material. It's obvious from the first track, the affable "Cayman Blues, that Haas is a talented composer who writes from the heart; he's also thoroughly accomplished on both instruments, playing with subtlety and taste. With Bertoncini and Moore in top form, it's an elegant, expressive threesome, and together they provide a relaxed and welcoming set.
Haas has a gift for thoughtful and melodic compositions. The dozen here, written over the past twenty years, range from blues to ballads, bop and bossas, including the serene "Infinite Vistas, "Winter Samba, and "Jobim, a tribute that manages to duplicate the feel of the master without copying him. The trio swings through some familiar changes on "Nowhere and caresses the gorgeous "Sabrina's Smile ; on "Blues with a Twist, Haas proves that his horn can wail as well as whisper. Meanwhile, Bertoncini provides exquisite solos and filigree throughout, while Moore supplies a deep, velvety pulse and some eloquent bowing on "Elegy."
The liners explain that Haas's songs were variously inspired by nature, love, and gratitude ("Elegy, for instance, is a tuneful tribute to the jazz greats who "gave themselves so completely...and live on through their music. ). The musical result is such audible contentment that listening to Telling Stories actually soothes and cheers the spirit. But this is no wispy, New Age fluff: this is real jazz, with style, substance and soul, and as such it's highly recommended.
Cayman Blue; Jobim; Midnight Whispers; Nowhere; Infinite Vistas; Blues with a Twist; Sabrina
Fred Haas: piano, saxophone; Gene Bertoncini: guitar; Michael Moore: bass.
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