Sax infused house is something Hed Kandi know a thing or two about. With The Lovely Laura among their residents, you can be sure to hear plenty of classic sax numbers and jazz reworks at their glamorous Saturday night affairs at Es Paradis. So who better then to hand pick some of these dance floor anthems for your listening pleasure? Hed Kandi presents their new compilation Summer of Sax.
Don Byas was a giant of the tenor sax, though his accomplishments were all but overlooked in his native land once he moved to Europe for good. This CD from Universal Music's Jazz in Paris series compiles three separate studio sessions from the early '50s, all with different rhythm sections. Most of the tracks are standard ballads, featuring the leader throughout. His expressive take of "Laura" shows off a big tone with a bit of vibrato much like Ben Webster in his later years. The one original is his snappy "Riviera Blues," a lively number likely improvised on the spot. Had he remained in the U.S., it is possible that Don Byas might have been ranked along with Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Ben Webster in the top echelon of tenor saxophonists, so anyone unfamiliar with his work should seek out this very affordable collection.
After a five-year hiatus, singer/songwriter Laura Nyro returned with Smile in 1976. On this disc, Nyro's somewhat idiosyncratic writing and performance style is decidedly subdued. In its stead is a light pop and jazz feel similar to that of Maria Muldaur's mid-'70s recordings. Supporting Nyro instrumentally is virtually a who's who of New York and Los Angeles studio stalwarts. While the prowess of folks like Will Lee (bass), brothers Randy Brecker (trumpet) and Michael Brecker (flute/sax), Hugh McCracken (guitar), and Rick Marotta (drums) certainly strengthens Nyro's already laid-back material, it likewise reduces her to sounding like a Joni Mitchell ripoff. The undeniable highlight of Smile is the maturity in the songwriting. It becomes obvious that the half-decade away has done some significant good in revealing a decidedly positive evolution in Nyro's approach to her own life. What's more is that the material on this album seems to come from a place of contentment.
Instrumental music arranged, performed and recorded to provide a pleasant musical atmosphere. The work is a standard made by an anonymous ensemble, studio orchestra, playing from great classical melodies to more modern creations. Care string accents, soft pianistic timbres or saxophone warm colors create a pleasant musical decorated for intimate moments.