Friday, November 11, 2011

Chuck Berghofer-Jan Lundgren-Joe La Barbera

Chuck Berghofer Trio Together Again ... At The Jazz Bakery (Fresh Sound FSR 5050 CD)

Playing for a very appreciative audience at one of the leading venues in Los Angeles, Chuck Berghofer, Jan Lundgren and Joe La Barbera prove that the huge success of their previous release, 2008’s Thanks For The Memory (Fresh Sound FSR 5048 CD), was no flash in the pan. Once again, the trio concentrate on standards, exploring the delights of Have You Met Miss Jones?, Love For Sale, Tenderly, Yesterdays, Everything Happens to Me and I’ve Never Been In Love Before. There are also jazz standards, Oscar Pettiford’s Blues In The Closet and Thelonious Monk’s Rhythm-a-ning. There is not a weak moment in this wonderfully performed session; all three men play superb solos, filled with invention and vividly demonstrating their skills. As a group, throughout they show how in tune they are with one another as they lift the music to quite remarkable heights.

Just in case you missed Thanks For The Memory, this CD pays tribute to Hollywood composer Ralph Rainger. Among the songs are Easy Living, Please, If I Should Lose You, June In January and I Wished On The Moon. All of these songs are lovingly interpreted by the three instrumentalists and the true value of the melodic gift of the composer is apparent throughout. Most of Rainger's songs were written in collaboration with lyricist Leo Robin and a measure of his contribution to their partnership can be heard when the wonderful Sue Raney steps up to sing two of their songs, If I Should Lose You and Thanks For The Memory. There is a ten-minute track that presents two radio clips from the era when the songs were written on one of which Rainger talks about his work and then plays Love In Bloom, while on the other Rainger and Robin sing the same song at an ASCAP show. These two CDs, both of which are produced by Dick Bank, are essential for jazz fans for the performances, while the earlier CD will be especially attractive to those who love the music of the era covered by those Hollywood songwriters. 
At the start of 2009, that earlier CD was a winner in the annual Critics' Poll in Jazz Journal and it came as no surprise when the new release also found favour, topping the 2011 poll as best new release.

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