Bob Lark – Suggestions – Jazzed Media

by | Jun 25, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Bob Lark – Suggestions – Jazzed Media JM 1026,  57:46 *****:

(Bob Lark, trumpet and flugelhorn; Jim McNeely, piano; Kelly Sill, bass; Joel Spencer, drums, Mark Colby, tenor sax)

Bob Lark’s last release for Jazzed Media, In Her Eyes, featured Lark with the Phil Woods Quintet. Lark’s latest CD, recorded in 2004 but just recently released by Jazzed Media, brings Bob together once again with Woods’ pianist McNeely, but there the similarity ends, as here Bob has brought along fellow Chicagoans, Kelly Sill, Joel Spencer, and Mark Colby. A special feature this time out is four tracks – all standards-done in duet with McNeely.

Lark is the chairman of the famed DePaul University Jazz Studies program, and his work is centered around the Windy City. This disc was recorded in April 2004 at the Chicago Recording Center. The recording dates were centered around McNeely’s teaching visits to DePaul, where Sill, Spencer, and Colby also teach part time.

Suggestions opens with the title cut, and it is a nice feature for saxist Colby, who along with Lark swing mightily. McNeely contributes with an up-tempo solo as well. You and the Night and the Music brings down the heat and Lark’s flugelhorn has a warm inviting tone. Colby’s section is so in the pocket that it makes it a shame that he isn’t featured more outside of the Midwest. The first of the duo selections, Lover Man, has Bob again on Flugel and the recording quality is superb giving off the feeling that Bob and Jim are in your living room playing a home concert for you and a few selected friends.

Old School, is just that, a blues with a strong swing/bop feel.-something you’d hear late at night in a blowing session. Clifford Brown’s classic, Joy Spring, is next and as a duet is just right, a song you never tire of hearing as long as it is in the hands of an able horn man. McNeely never misses a beat and his solo brings to mind why he has been one of Phil Woods’ pianists for so long.

The waltz If You Only Knew, composed by Lark, once again shows off Lark’s ability to write “just right” melodies. Colby again shines in the spotlight. Gracie’s Delight, written by McNeely, is a complex number. McNeely advises in the liner notes that they practiced the coda four times before they even took a full run on a take.

Perhaps Thad Jones’ most-played composition, A Child is Born, follows and done as a duet is a special treat, as it gives the familiar melody a lovely reading. Lark’s solo is as beautiful as you’d find anywhere, with his burnished Flugelhorn tone as warm as a hug from a loved one.

Suggestions ends with two more standards, Star Eyes, and All the Way, with the latter done as the final Lark/McNeely duo selection. The recording quality and song selection on this CD is so distinctive and spot on that it is a wonder that Jazzed Media’s owner, Graham Carter, kept this session in the can for so long. It’s a testament to all the quality releases that Jazzed Media has brought out in the last few years. Each new release is reason enough to head down to your local record store for a listen as Carter’s magic touch continues. Whereas other labels are cutting back on their jazz releases, Jazzed Media stands out as an American label that is keeping the jazz tradition alive with new recordings.

TrackList: Suggestions, You and the Night and the Music, Lover Man, Old School, Joy Spring, If You Only Knew, Gracie’s Delight, A Child is Born, Star Eyes, All the Way

– Jeff Krow
 

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