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In their quest to beef up a CD’s exposure, good-intentioned industry insiders can sometimes unintentionally steer an album down a dead-end path. On the cover of Bennie Wallace’s The Nearness of You, a voluptuous woman clings to his shoulder looking seductively at his sax. The liner notes feature another babe in a low-cut evening dress resting on a piano with a sax. Viagra-infused lounge lizards trying to impress their first dates with their impeccable taste in mood music—and Park Avenue dinner party hostesses seeking lightly rendered jazz standards that won’t overpower the table talk—are the established target audiences for this CD.
The industry folks just don’t get it: Bennie Wallace (tenor sax), Kenny Barron (piano) and Eddie Gomez (bass) are just too talented to be pigeon-holed into a straight-ahead, mostly easy listening standards album. Basically, it’s a nice album but not something that excites the senses, starts the juices flowing or forces you to confront new interpretations and ideas. In sum, it’s a pleasant disc but not one you’ll want to pop into the player on a regular basis.
Having offered that much criticism, I would be remiss not to say that there are moments here that are truly delightful. Take for example, Kenny Barron’s soulful blues playing on Ann Ronell’s "Willow Weep for Me." Or Wallace and Gomez’s outstanding duo on Sam Coslow’s and Arthur Johnson’s "Cocktails for Two." The last track, Henry Nemo’s "’Tis Autumn," includes fine solos by all three musicians.
Track Listing: 1. Come Rain or Come Shine;
2. Willow Weep for Me;
3. Crazy He Calls Me;
4. Cocktails for Two;
5. Why Was I Born;
6. The Nearness of You;
7. I'm Old Fashioned;
8. I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face;
9. Some Other Spring;
10. 'Tis Autumn;
I love jazz because it’s what sounds
I was first exposed to jazz in my
parents household and in school
I appreciate many styles of jazz
and shy away from really outside
stuff. I enjoy relating to the
One of the best shows I ever
attended was 1975 Chick Corea’s
Return To Forever tour at an
intimate venue in downtown
The first jazz record I bought was
Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon.
My advice to new listeners is try
several styles before you decide
what jazz is all about!
Listen to music daily and stay open