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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


Beautiful Friendship




1. Beautiful Friendship
2. I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You
3. I Hear a Rhapsody
4. Nancy (With the Laughing Face)
5. Groovin' High
6. The Nearness of You
7. Things Ain't What They Used to Be

Doug Sertl - Trombone
Peter Bernstein - Guitar
Rick Montalbano - B3 Organ
Terry Clarke - Drums


I have known many bandleaders who weren't first-class musicians but led bands because they liked being in charge. I can't tell if the same applies to this quartet, although the leader - trombonist Doug Sertl - is probably the weakest of the four musicians (judging from this CD). Several of his solos lack fluency, especially at fast tempos, and on some tracks such as Nancy his intonation is somewhat shaky. However, his cadenza at the end of The Nearness of You is impressively virtuosic.

Guitarist Peter Bernstein is more fluent than his leader, with some bebbopish elements and echoes of Wes Montgomery in his playing. Rick Montalbano is a pianist as well as an organist, although he stays with the organ here. He supplies a driving bass with the organ pedals, which is augmented by the guitar chords and accents from the drums, so you don't feel the absence of a double bass. Terry Clarke is one of my favourite drummers: a Canadian who was on John Handy's greatest album, Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Terry increases the tension with his invigorating accents and breaks, especially at the end of eight-bar sequences. And he shares excellent sequences like those in I Hear a Rhapsody, where he swaps four-bar passages with trombone and organ in succession.

The repertoire consists entirely of jazz standards but some of these are given a fresh complexion. For instance, I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You has a bouncy Latin rhythm, as has Groovin' High, which uses the tune as a counter-melody to Whispering, the song it originally stole the chords from.

This album was actually recorded in 1998 and the trombonist's shortcomings may explain why it has only appeared recently. It lasts for less than 50 minutes, which is short change these days. But it is almost worth buying for Terry Clarke's drumming alone.

Tony Augarde 

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