“Discover Jazz,” the booklet accompanying this splendid CD suggests, and there are few more pleasant ways to do so than by taking one’s seat near the bandstand for an hour or so of delightfully easygoing music in Tom Talbert’s amiable Warm Cafe. A tip of the fedora to Essential Music Group for reissuing the album, which was recorded in 1991–92. That Talbert, a topnotch composer / arranger for some sixty years, derives his inspiration from such Swing Era giants as Lunceford, Basie, Ellington and Shaw is immediately apparent on the opening number, “Someone’s Rocking My Blues,” whose slow–moving introductory statement and swinging denouement are reminiscent of late–evening Jazz radio broadcasts from the ’30s and ’40s. It’s a spirit that obtains throughout this thoroughly entertaining session that encompasses seven more compositions by Talbert, Django Reinhardt’s “Manoir de Mes Reves,” Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love” and Fats Waller / Andy Razaf’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Talbert reaches into his well–stocked library to reclaim a number of graceful charts including “La Bayadera,” written for his big band in 1949 and rearranged for Stan Kenton a year later; “Tell Summer No,” composed in 1957 for a Town Hall concert by bassist Oscar Pettiford’s big band; “Too Soon,” written in 1949 for Billy Eckstine but never before recorded; “Dangraddy Blue,” written in 1987 especially for bassist John Leitham; and “The Warm Cafe,” one of Talbert’s themes for a long–forgotten ’70s film, What’s a Nice Girl Doing? Leitham is on board to have his say on “Dangraddy Blue” while “Too Soon” showcases Andy Martin’s expressive trombone (as does “Ain’t Misbehavin’”). Each of them is a finely chiseled gem, as are Talbert’s other charts including handsome arrangements of “Manoir,” “What Is This Thing” and “Misbehavin’.” They’re enhanced further by sparkling solos from Martin, Leitham, trumpet / flugels Steve Huffsteter and Bob Summers, altos Don Shelton and Lee Callet, tenor Bob Efford and baritone Jennifer Hall. If you’ve concluded by now that this reviewer is an unabashed Tom Talbert enthusiast, reward yourself with a jelly doughnut and at least two or three victory laps.
Contact:Essential Music Group, 274 Water St., Excelsior, MN 55331; phone 888–466–9119.
Track Listing: Someone
Personnel: Don Shelton, Lee Callet, alto sax, clarinet, flute; Bob Efford, tenor sax, clarinet; Jennifer Hall, baritone sax; Frank Szabo, Wayne Bergeron, trumpet; Bob Summers, Steve Huffsteter, trumpet, flugelhorn; Suzette Moriarty, French horn; Andy Martin, trombone; John Leys, bass trombone; Alan Steinberger, piano; John Leitham, bass; Jack Sperling, drums.