Mr. D. Skinner | England | 04/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the second CD to be issued of recordings made for the Famous Door label. This is one of the best best sessions that I have heard. I have had a copy of the LP for many years-in the UK they were always hard to find. This CD features Watrous as the main soloist, and I defy anybody not to smile with joy at the opening number, Falling In Love, as Watrous tears into the tune with fast runs, and high notes, not speed for the sake of it, but it all blends together perfectly. The ballads, Nancy and Body and Soul, show that at a slower tempo there is no shortage of ideas, they are graceful and flow well. A bonus on this CD is the three tracks from the LP Bill Watrous in Hollywood, featuring trumpeter Danny Stiles, and Joe Romano on Tenor Sax. Blue Bossa is just superb.
I would urge anyone with an interest in jazz trombone to buy this CD, for all Watrous fans this is a must. I hope that in time more of these Famous Door recordings will be issued. Well done to everybody at Progressive for getting this music onto CD."
Trombone virtuosity in a small group setting
James A. Vedda | Alexandria, VA USA | 04/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD combines two sessions, starting with a 1980 gathering featuring Watrous and rhythm section. These six tracks amply demonstrate the trombonist's virtuosity and versatility, starting with a brisk rendering of Rodgers & Hart's "Falling in Love" and including two luscious ballads, "Nancy" and "Body & Soul," the latter quite possibly the definitive trombone version of this jazz standard. There are also nice renditions of "It Might As Well Be Spring" and "The Road Goes Ever Onward" done in lively Latin style with tasteful use of auxiliary percussion.
The one oddball track of this session is the title song, Seals & Croft's "I'll Play for You." Not that it's a bad track - it's just stylistically different than everything else on the CD. Apparently, Watrous liked this tune enough to depart from his usual practice of avoiding recent pop tunes on his recordings.
The final three tracks come from a 1978 session that includes trumpet (Danny Stiles) and tenor sax (Joe Romano) in addition to trombone and rhythm. "Blue Bossa" begins this set, continuing the Latin groove established in earlier tracks. "Why Did I Choose Thee" is a lovely ballad in which Watrous, as usual, makes it sound easy to play smooth and pretty in any part of the horn's range. Stiles is on flugelhorn for this one, sounding mellower than usual as he avoids the high-register licks typically heard in his trumpet solos. The set finishes with the Gene Ammons blues tune "Tubby." All three horn players as well as pianist Ross Tompkins and bassist John Heard do some nice licks in this one. The stop-time sections in each solo are a nice touch.
If you're a musician who doesn't play trombone, this listening experience will make you wish that you did. If you are a trombonist, you will either start practicing more or you'll decide to trash your instrument and give up in frustration. Either way, it's worth the risk."