PAUL COMBS QUARTET: The Things You All Are
LABEL: BoMuse Transcriptions 1002 - released 1998. BoMuse: 14 Berkshire Place, Cambridge, MA 02141. For more info, contact: www.paulcombs.com.
SONGS: My Little Suede Shoes; All The Things You Are; One For Ken; Yardbird Suite; Laura; Road Song; Blue Skies For Beau; Yours Is My Heart Alone; I Got My Job Through BOP.
PERSONEL: Paul Combs, soprano and baritone saxes, flute; Jay Ford, guitar; Paul Ebersole, bass; Stanley C. Swann III, drums.
The guitar glides in smooth; the promise of light background music. But don't tell Paul Combs: with sassy soprano he struts into "Suede Shoes," gentle but not sleepy. The solo digs deep, and clarinet flutters lead to sweet shouts, all beneath a samba that fits so well. Paul Ebersole has muscle: his bass is wiry, and walks with great rumble. (the guitar obscures him a little, which hurts on the solo). The "Shoes" fit, and set the mood for the album; gentle rhythm, punchy horns, and pleasant surprises. It's lots of things, most of them good.
"All The Things" are different; a grainy baritone punching through the forgotten verse. Same with the tune: Combs starts with the solo, hinting at the theme and nothing more. His bellows are cavernous, followed by Ford's hights twinkles. It ends with the theme, followed by a smile. The next tune is a memorial; appropriately, it's a blues. Paul takes a flute; his metalic sound reminds me of Jerome Richardson. The notes float on cool, and Ford has bite like Grant Green - good move. Another is "Laura:" the flute goes warm, a glimmer to every note. The trappings are delicate, and I love those intimate drums. "Laura" is torid: Paul blows a gentle flame, but how hot it is!
"Road Song" comes loaded with honk: here comes the bari, an unstoppable force with a rusty swing. Ford is slightly tentative; his solo starts well but doesn't quite finish. Speaking of "road," the best tracks are live -"Blue Skies For Beau" is a lonely soprano, high as an oboe. At first he mourns, stretches a little, and now it's a swinger (Swann splashes a mean cymbal). The sound's a bit harsh but Paul is right on as he shouts it with ease. "My Heart Alone" is a dream: The flute is nice, but the track is Ford's - a high-ringing solo, and his best. "I Got My Job" Crackles with strength as that soprano goes mighty tough. Ebersole walks the walk, and the guitar was never so clear. The flames roar higher; I'm glad he got his job!
The live tracks are the best, but there's plenty to love here. Lots of strength to the bari; the contrast (sweet band, tough leader) is a joy. A showcase - you'll like all the things he is.
-John Barrett, Jr., Green Mountain Jazz Messenger, vol. 3, no. 1, October 1999, p.17.