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Jazz Reviews : Edison's Trumpet Sweet

November 30, 1987|A. JAMES LISKA

Not that age should have anything to do with it, but it is heartening to hear a man of 72 play music with all the enthusiasm and technical expertise expected of a considerably younger performer. Though the expert musicality that can only be gained over that time is likewise expected, it is frequently accompanied by waning chops and interest.

Harry (Sweets) Edison, the much-honored trumpeter who has been a consistent presence on the world's jazz scene since joining Count Basie's band in 1937, showed a full house at the Loa on Friday night that his well-honed musicality is well supported by youthful enthusiasm and unfailing technique.

From an opening "I Want to Be Happy" to a closing "Centerpiece," Edison offered a neatly paced set of tunes from the standard jazz repertoire that never failed to sate an appetite for improvisational music. His clear, biting tones were delivered in a smooth-as-satin manner that showed a clear intellect in approaching pop tunes.

The order of the first set was to keep things jumping, and, over the greased-lightning tempos provided by drummer Jimmie Smith and bassist Ray Brown, Edison floated his melodies smoothly. Pianist Art Hillary, whose solo outing on "What's New?" was a sheer delight, played capably behind the leader and provided melodic impetus to "There Will Never Be Another You," rendered in a break-neck tempo.

Edison stayed away from the ballads during his first set, but delivered a gently muted version of "Watch What Happens" that showed the trumpeter capable at any tempo.

Bassist Brown, expert in most any setting, was rock-steady throughout the set and performed a series of inspired solos within each musical context.

Perhaps the best testament to Edison's vital talent is that he is one of a few jazz players around who can still find life in "Satin Doll."

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