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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 was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach. I fell in love with it. I wondered around until the owner (Pedro Soto) asked if I needed help. He then introduced me to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan and the rest is history. I walked out of the store with my first jazz recording: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street.