OTHER VIEWS: Albums by Wayne Alpern, Larry Newcomb, Henry Robinett, and Lois Bruno

February 27, 2021

Jukebox (Henri Elkan Music) is an album of 20 selections that blend jazz and pop standards with some classical pieces arranged for the Dorian Wind Quartet by Wayne Alpern. The players are Gretchen Pusch on flute, Gerard Reuter on oboe, Benjamin Fingland on clarinet, Karl Kramer-Johansen on horn, and Adrian Morejon on bassoon. Alpern has done a marvelous job of fusing elements of jazz and classical chamber music into a program that pays fitting homage to both sides of the musical coin. You find “All the Things You Are,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Ornithology,” “Penny Lane”, and “Send in the Clowns” mixed with music from “Bartok Chorale,” “Borodin on Broadway,” “Handel Allegro” and “Nutcracker Suite.” It all works well together presenting an interesting and relaxing program suitable for serious listening or appealing background music. (www.waynealpern.com)

One of the fascinating things about jazz is the number of families where some of the offspring of jazz musicians follow in their parents’ footsteps, often playing together as a family. Love, Dad (Essential Messenger – 32021) finds guitarist Larry Newcomb fronting a quartet that includes his son, Jake, on bass with Thomas Royal on piano, and Dave Marsh on drums. Larry Newcomb has played in a variety of settings and styles during his busy career. On this 10-song collection, he exhibits his versatility while visiting six original tunes plus “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” “Secret Agent Man,” “The Song Is You”, and Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism,” a number that gives Jake an opportunity to showcase his bass playing. Originally a blues and rock guitarist, Newcomb got turned onto jazz by a Jim Hall-Ron Carter recording and redirected his attention to the kind of sounds that he now so pleasingly shares with his listeners. (www.LarryNewcomb.com)

 Jazz Standards, Volume 2 (Nefertiti Records – 21620) is the second collection taken from sessions recorded by the Henry Robinett Quartet in 2000. Robinett, who has not been noted for playing the kind of straight-ahead jazz that is found on this recording, sounds right at home playing the 12 selections contained on this album. There are nine standards, “Yours Is My Heart Alone,” “Like Someone in Love,” “I Thought About You,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “Body and Soul,” “How Am I to Know,” “Darn That Dream,” “I Love You” and “It Could Happen to You,” plus “Milestones” and two Monk gems, “Monk’s Mood” and “San Francisco Holiday (Worry Later).” Robinett is accompanied by Joe Gilman on piano, Chris Smyer on bass, and Michael Stephens on drums. They give the listener an hour plus of listening pleasure. (www.henryrobinett.com)

Listening to And So It Begins (Wise Cat Records – 0005) by vocalist Lois Bruno, it is evident that despite this being her debut solo recording, she is an experienced singer. She is nicely accompanied by saxophonist Kenny Shanker, pianist Mike Eckroth, bassist Yoshi Waki, and drummer Brian Fisher. Bruno’s program of 11 selections offers no surprises, but she gives fresh and welcoming takes on songs as varied as “When Sunny Gets Blue,” “Always on My Mind,” “But Beautiful,” “Feeling Good” and “Cry Me a River.” Her voice is appealing, warm and well suited to her material and approach. She has a definite jazz influence that enhances her approach to each selection. This may be a debut effort, but it oozes a deep professionalism. (www.wisecatrecords.com) – JOE LANG

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