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Jeff RUPERT and Richard Drexler


RUPE MEDIA RM111016CD [57:52]




Without a Song

I Canít help It


Strange Meadowlark


A Felicidade

My Mistressí Eyes

Soul Eyes;

Jeff Rupert (tenor saxophone) and Richard Drexler (piano)

Recorded June 2015, Timucua Arts White House, Orlando, FL


Jeff Rupert and Richard Drexler have worked together over nearly three decades, prominently as a duo or as members of the bands of Kenny Drew Jr and The Jazz Professors. Over two evenings they recorded a full programme from which eight tracks have been selected for this gatefold disc.

Rupertís stylistic lodestar must be Stan Getz and his playing on Without a Song is echt-Getzian though with a slight admixture of Ben Websterís breath-laden lower register, Drexlerís Ďwalkingí accompanying figures ensuring that the ensemble is tight. In fact, to some degree, the duo reminds me of the rapport generated between Getz and Kenny Barron. They do well by Thornhillís Snowfall imbuing it with a grace and a sense of almost Debussian tracery that suits the elegance of its construction and thematic depth. Leisurely and lyrical, it finds the duo at the apex of their impressionistic-leaning selves.

The pianistís chording brings out the harmonic richness of the van Heusen/Burke Imagination in a number that surely pays homage to the ballad mastery of Getz. This is a subtle performance, bringing a strong lyric canvas to bear and showing intuitive understanding based on long knowledge of each otherís playing. This is not to imply anything copyist, slavish or otherwise, about Rupertís tenor playing. Itís strongly in the Getz orbit, undoubtedly, but as A Felicidade shows thereís room for manoeuvre in the Brazilian mode and stylistic integrity is properly maintained, something that applies throughout the set. Thereís only one original and thatís Jeff Rupertís My Mistressí Eyes, a warmly textured slow ballad. With a bit of linguistic wit the last track also surveys the eye in the form of Mal Waldronís Soul Eyes where Drexler can stretch out and both men allow the piece to end in a gentle, winning close.

This enjoyable, unhurried album enshrines classy performances.

Jonathan Woolf

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