I recently had the pleasure to write about saxophonist Don Aliquo with respect to his fine work with a quintet co-led with trumpeter Clay Jenkins. The Nashville based saxophonist has a new release with Nashville pianist Beegie Adair and her trio (bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown) "Too Marvelous For Words" (Adair Music Group). On this collection of standards they were trying to generate "a vintage, mid-fifties, Bebop feel …," to quote Ms. Adair, and the result is splendid.
There is some exceptional music here as this quartet delve into several classics from the American Songbook, along with three compositions from Billy Strayhorn as well as a Thelonious Monk standard. Opening with Strayhorn's "Johnny Come Lately," Aliquo displays a dry tone and cool sound on his tenor that might be likened to the dry martini alto of the late Paul Desmond, and is very much in the manner of the likes of Zoot Sims and Stan Getz. He spins his marvelous solo as the trio provides a swinging foundation (with Brown nifty with the brushes) before Adair takes a solo displaying her touch and crisp playing and then the two trading fours with Brown to ride this performance out. Then the pace picks up on a spirited "This Can't Be Love," on which the interplay between Aliquo and Adair suggest to me some of those swinging Pablo recordings that paired Zoot Sims with Jimmy Rowles.
A lovely rendition of another Strayhorn classic "Daydream" is a showcase for Aliquo's ballad playing, while a brief Brown solo sets the mood for a bouncy rendition of Monk's "Bye-Ya." "Ishafan" is the last of the Strayhorn interpretations and the restraint of the rhythm section helps contribute to its dreamy feel. It is followed by the bubbly, latin-accented "All or Nothing At All," and the late in the evening mood of the rendition of the Tadd Dameron-Carl Sigman ballad, "If You Could See Me Now." Aliquo and the trio are quite vibrant on the Johnny Mercer and Richard A. Whiting penned title number.
Don Aliquo again shows himself to be a saxophonist of nuance and imagination while Beegee Adair was a revelation to these ears. Her trio is terrific and I envy the folks in Nashville who get to see these artists on a regular basis. Mike Longo in the liner notes writes about "Too Marvelous For Words," "What a delightful album!" It is easy to agree with that assessment of this excellent recording.