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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Recovered Treasures

Jump JCD 12-29



1. Valse Bleue
2. June
3. Ah! So Pure
4. Waltz No.9
5. Stride La Vampa
6. Traumerei
7. You Meet The Nicest People In Your Dreams
8. Two Sleepy People
9. Save It Pretty Mama
10. Lazy River
11. Struttin' With Some Barbecue
12. Medley: Sugar/I Can't Give You Anything But Love
13. Lover Come Back To Me
14. Medley: Sweet Lorraine/Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
15. When You're Smiling

Tracks 1-6
Beaux Arts String Quartet:
Charles Libove - Violin
Richard Sortomme - Violin
Lamar Alsop - Viola
Charles P. McCracken - Cello
Ruby Braff - Cornet
Ralph Sutton - Piano
Bucky Pizzarelli - Guitar
Jack Lesberg - Bass
Mel Lewis - Drums
Tracks 7-10
Ruby Braff - Cornet
Ralph Sutton - Piano
Bill Takas - Bass
Buzzy Drootin - Drums
Tracks 11-14
Ruby Braff - Cornet
Bobby Hackett - Cornet
Peanuts Hucko - Clarinet
Dave McKenna - Piano
Bill Takas - Bass
Jake Hanna - Drums
Track 15
Ruby Braff - Cornet
Vic Dickenson - Trombone
Kenny Davern - Clarinet
Al Klink - Tenor sax
Ralph Sutton - Piano
Marty Grosz - Guitar
Jack Lesberg - Bass
Buzzy Drootin - Drums


Ruby Braff, who died in 2003, was a cornetist who authored one of the most flowing and individual styles on his instrument. While he was frequently neglected early in his career, he eventually became recognized as one of the most artful interpreters on the cornet since Louis Armstrong. This 2006 release on Jump Records entitled Ruby Braff and his Musical Friends amalgamates some previously unreleased gems from 1961 and 1981 which will not disappoint the listener.

The first six tracks are quite unusual as they bring Ruby and the band together with the Beaux Arts String Quartet playing Dick Hyman and Braff arrangements of some classical motifs. While interesting, this is not an ideal setting for either Braff or pianist Ralph Sutton. Nevertheless given the limitations of the set-up, there are some worthwhile moments. For example, Ruby uses the lower-note reaches of the cornet on Chopin's Valse No. 9, with the strings providing the accentuated background to his playing. On Verdi's Stride La Vampa, Sutton's stride piano adds a joyous complement to the interpretation.

For the balance of the disc we find Braff in the company of his musical friends for whom he has a great empathy and from whom he derives energy. The Ralph Sutton and then the Bobby Hackett date were recorded at Eddie Condon's in New York in January and March of 1961. The potency, control and vigour that Sutton and Braff brought to their working relationship were especially evident on You Meet The Nicest People In Your Dreams. Sutton leads off with a catchy rhythm on which Braff picks up the established pace and then a series of exchanges follows that cements their musical partnership.

The Ruby Braff/Bobby Hackett tracks bring together these two virtuosos for the first time. In addition, that two-handed monster pianist Dave McKenna is with the group along with the swinging drummer Jake Hanna just prior to his joining the Woody Herman band the following year. Struttin' With Some Barbecue opens the session with Hackett laying down the melody and then Braff taking the first solo with a soft tone followed by rhythmic notes. There is also a fine solo by clarinettist Peanuts Hucko and then Dave McKenna comes in and takes charge of the piece. No doubt Louis Armstrong would have been happy with this rendition of his signature number. There are no duds in this session but Lover Come Back To Me is worthy of a special mention as the whole band really delivers the goods. Braff and Hackett show their affinity, providing accents for each other's solos. Hucko takes a strong line around a rhythmic punctuation by both horns, and McKenna does his two-handed thing with Hanna's drumming egging him on.

The final track is taken from another live recording done for Changing Times Jazz Party in 1981. This session reunites Ruby Braff and Ralph Sutton along with a couple of other highly-regarded mainstream jazz musicians, namely Vic Dickenson on trombone and Kenny Davern on clarinet. These latter two standouts know how to add value to any tune and immediately do so with Dickenson showing off his glissandos and growls, and Davern taking on the high notes in striking fashion. Both Braff and Sutton exchange solos along the way, but Braff leads the band on the out chorus.

Ruby Braff was a perfectionist and had little time for those who did not share his dedication and enthusiasm for the mainstream jazz he espoused. Fortunately on this disc he enjoyed the company of those fellow musicians who shared this passion.

Pierre Giroux

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