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Bob Perkins Recommends...My Old Flame: Joe Magnarelli & Strings


Even some jazz cognoscenti may not be familiar with the name of Joe Magnarelli...but that's not Joe's fault. He's been playing a heap of trumpet since arriving on New York City's jazz scene some 25 years ago. Sometimes in the often-wacky world of music, and especially in jazz, even the near-great ones escape detection for quite a spell. But on the wings of My Old Flame, his latest CD, Joe's name and fame may take flight - and perhaps soon we'll all know Joe.

Magnarelli is a consummate professional from years of service in the bands of Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Toshiko Akiyoshi, The Vanguard Orchestra, and a number of recognized smaller bands - and this just skims his resume.

My Old Flame shows "Mags" working with a combo, and, on some selections, augmented by a 16-piece string section. The result in all cases is a delight to the ear. The disc also reveals that Mags can cook on a low or high flame.

The strings, presided over by Marty Sheller, melds with Mags' trumpet on the title track and on Dave Brubeck's "The Duke" (his anthem to Ellington), as though they were ordained to be. The collaboration recalls shades of an era in which the legendary Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown broke ground in jazz by recording with string ensembles. Here's hoping My Old Flame becomes a recorded inferno, and gives the man with the horn the international recognition he deserves.--BP