A Home Run
It is hard to say what amazes more, the genius of Ed Vezinho's writing--its variety, complexity and harmonic vision--or the players he and Jim Ward have assembled to animate these charts. Right from the opener, where drummer Harry Himles blasts off to begin the surgical perfection of his work, these players let you know what it means to be in love with their art.
Ron Kerber's beautiful JOFA, Joe Scannella's trumpet power on ALL THE WAY, Bob Rawlins' deft flute soloing on JOY and I'LL BE AROUND on which Jim Ward's graceful horn reaches for the stars--all of these will nail you to your seat with wonder.
The great jazz soloists have one thing in common: when they solo, they tell a story. On ONCE I HAD A SECRET LOVE, baritone player Dennis DiBlasio takes off like a bee-stung bear and never looks back, leaving no change unplayed. Tenor star Larry McKenns's too brief spot on I'VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HER FACE teases us with the inventive talent that has kept Philly jazz fans listening for fifty years.
Bassist Andy Lalasis is the heartbeat of this session, and pianist Demetrious Pappas plays with marvelous taste throughout. As always, veterans John Guida (tenor sax) and Mike Natale (trumpet) are the risk-takers, and their reach never exceeds their grasp.
SOPHISTICATED LADY features baritone player Stan Weiss. Stan is 82 now, the lone survivor here of the great big band era. Through all the changes in style, the fads and copycats, he remains one-of-a-kind. On this cut you can hear the warmth and restraint that defines him, the musical wisdom that informs him, and the sound that no one else gets on this big horn.
As in their previous albums, Ed Vezinho and Jim Ward have blended classical, jazz-rock, gorgeous ballad writing and straight swing into one tasty treat.