Album Review of

Written by Joe Ross
October 28, 2019 - 12:31am EDT
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There’s nothing quite like the comforting warmth of tenor saxophone front and center in a jazz combo. Ray Blue’s fluid, lyrical style is technically solid, but the heart’s the real thing in this baker’s dozen of tracks. The exquisite, evocative melodies are delivered with convincing feeling and emotion. We hear originals, standards, as well as some tunes by Nat Adderley, Jimmy Smith, George Coleman and others. Performing in a style reminiscent of the early masters, Blue’s sax melds gracefully with piano, guitar, bass and drums. We also hear Ron Wilkins’ trombone and Neil Clark’s percussion on three tracks apiece. The band’s fullest sound is captured in Jimmy Smith’s “Mellow Mood,” which allows for plenty of masterful improvisation. After hearing guitarist Jeff Barone solo in “Mellow Mood” and “Amsterdam After Dark,” it would’ve been nice for some other arrangements to feature more from him. The set offers fresh up-tempo perspectives of tunes like “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “Everything Happens to Me.” Blue’s lively, energetic originals “Work” and “Attitude” are also highlights. A soulful performance with varied repertoire, Ray Blue’s “Work” offers novel arrangements and creative musical expression.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)