Various Artists – Jazz Moods: Cocktail Party

Various Artists
Jazz Moods: Cocktail Party
(Concord – 2000)
by Matthew S. Robinson

Dust off that martini shaker one more time, folks- the cocktail movement is not quite dead. That is, at least if music like this is still readily available! Though known for impressive catalog artists like Michael Feinstein and John Patitucci and the very impressive Joey DeFrancesco, Concord Jazz has added another impressive chapter to their copy cat compilation series “Jazz Moods” with this latest collection of old and new standards. Opening with Mr. Francesco’s spacey swing through “Fly Me to the Moon,” Concord’s Cocktail Party invites intelligent imbibers to come fly with Monty Alexander by way of the Cahn/Van Heusen classic.

Flip Phillips and Scott Hamilton put Benny Goodman’s “A Smooth One” on ice before the album slips into something even more cool and comfortable with help from Kenny Burrell’s worry-free fretting of the Mercer/Ellington/Strayhorn triumph “Satin Doll.” “Fats” Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” spills on the carpet, but Herb Ellis and Ray Brown pick up that “Inka-Dinka-Do” so stealthily that neither Marian McPartland and Tommy Flanagan’s sharp and bouncy “Jeepers Creepers” peepers nor even Jimmy Bruno’s wending “Witchcraft” can put it back down.

But who cares? It’s a party and Ruby Braff, for one, says “I Want to Be Happy” on his venerable horn. Gene Harris helps out with a warm and creamy “Hot Toddy” and Dave McKenna deftly puts “A Shine on Your Shoes,” but in the end, Ken Peplowski gently reminds us all that’s it’s just “Pretend.”

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted!

© 2001 M. S. Robinson, ARR