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Bobby Lewis – Flugelhorn, trumpet
Jo Belle Yonely – Vocals
Pat Mallinger – Tenor, alto saxophones
Jim Ryan – Piano
Andy Brown – Guitar
Stewart Miller – Acoustic bass
Jeff Stitely – Drums
Alejo Poveda – Percussion
Accomplished trumpeter Bobby Lewis needs no introduction—he is as versatile as he is prolific. His signature fluid sound and sensitive interpretation have marked many a diverse outing. He has, however, remained a jazzman at heart, as his own recordings amply demonstrate.
His twelfth release as a leader, …Play On is a collection of standards and originals, the focal point of which is the four-part “Seasonal Tones Suite.” Penned by Lewis, it is an impressionistic, whimsical jazzy answer to the baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi’s classic “Four Seasons.”
Breezy “Magenta: Spring” is a playful and romantic ballad that percolates with effervescent rhythms. Saxophonist Pat Mallinger’s elegant solo flows with graceful ease. Lewis takes his turn in the spotlight with clear burnished phrases that he blows in his characteristic laid-back style.
In contrast, “Amber: Autumn” is a languid and melancholic tune with pianist Jim Ryan’s resonant chords underscoring the mellifluous, warm saxophone and horn duet. “Ivory: Winter” is stormy and symphonic, with drummer Jeff Stitely driving the music with his thunderous beats. Lastly, “Emerald: Summer” is lilting and joyous like a picnic in the park and features bassist Stewart Miller’s agile dancing strings.
Elsewhere, vocalist JoBelle Yonely shines on her own tango-esque “The Silent Goodbye.” Her sensual and wistful delivery is as expressive as it is mellow and matches Lewis’ meandering lines perfectly. The resulting song is hauntingly atmospheric and exquisitely lyrical.
A Latin motif reappears on Lewis’ own “Mr. B’s Theme.” The exciting piece bubbles with ardent energy as percussionist Alejo Poveda joins Miller and Stitely for a performance that is both visceral and melodic.
There are more intimate moments on the album including the exuberant “Smiles” and the intelligent and serene “Like Someone in Love.” On both tracks, guitarist Andy Brown joins Lewis and Miller for an eloquent and witty three-way “conversation.”
Age has not dampened Lewis’ creative chops; they have matured and become more delectable just like a fine wine. Even at the threshold of his ninth decade of life, Lewis is able to entertain and charm with his ebullient artistry.