248

John Bunch: The John Bunch Trio Plays the Music of Irving Berlin (except one)

By

Sign in to view read count
John Bunch: The John Bunch Trio Plays the Music of Irving Berlin (except one) If it takes a while to notice that there's no drummer on The John Bunch Trio Plays the Music of Irving Berlin (except one), that's OK. Recalling the classic Nat "King" Cole Trio, Bunch's music embraces the same combination of tradition and freshness, of rock-solid technique and flight-of-fancy exploration.

Tradition might be the watchword for this 12-song set from the American songbook, but how then could the austere yet fervid playing of two jazz veterans in their late 80s—pianist Bunch and flutist Frank Wess (who sits in for half the album)—be accounted for, alongside the workmanlike rhythm section of bassist John Webber and guitarist Frank Vignola, both half as old as their counterparts? Tradition, yes, but tradition set in relief by solos that stretch and circumnavigate these old standards with wide-eyed curiosity, sureness of vision and coherence of execution.

From the moment when Bunch strikes the first notes of "Soft Lights and Sweet Music," it's clear who's in charge. Whether he's soloing or sitting back to let his band mates shine, Bunch remains the guiding star in this miniature solar system. His almost-not-there accents anchor each song even as Wess, Vignola and Webber meander down the path. And what meandering: Webber's chunky, thrumming bass solos redefine what it is to break from the mainstream, while Wess's assertive attitude on "How Deep Is the Ocean?" and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," and Vignola's lively, spidery chords and runs of quiet fire push and pull the melody in several directions at once.

"Change Partners," the last song on the album, really takes off; embodying the taste and texture of the set. As he does on several tracks, Wess takes the melody (and the rest of the band, right under his wing), producing several lovely tremolo moments and some exquisitely soaring passages. Bunch fires off a series of lightning runs, while Vignola keeps time like the brushes from an invisible drummer. Webber's stentorian bass pulses underneath and breaks the surface with a fluttering solo.

The "except one" from the album's title is the slow and easy "Coquette," by Gus Kahn, Carmen Lombardo and Johnny Green—a freely maneuvered exchange of solos that would make a superb encore after an evening of music.

Whitney Balliet once described Duke Ellington and his cohorts as "gentlemen of genius." The phrase fits John Bunch, Frank Wess, John Webber and Frank Vignola like a glove.


Track Listing: Soft Lights and Sweet Music; Coquette; How Deep Is the Ocean?; What'll I Do?; I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm; The Best Thing for You; Isn't This a Lovely Day?; I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket; They Say It's Wonderful; All By Myself; Better Luck Next Time; Change Partners.

Personnel: John Bunch: piano; Frank Vignola: guitar; John Webber: bass; Frank Wess: flute.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Arbors Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Stranger Days" CD/LP/Track Review Stranger Days
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Life and Other Transient Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Life and Other Transient Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "This Is Nate Najar" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan" CD/LP/Track Review My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "A Handful Of Songs" CD/LP/Track Review A Handful Of Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!