MOON & SAND - BoMuse Transcriptions 1003, Released 2000. BoMuse: 14 Berkshire Place, Cambridge, MA 02141; Tel: 617-576-1004. For more info, contact: www.paulcombs.com. Estate; I've Never Been in Love Before; What a Difference a Day Makes; A Beautiful Friendship; Moon and Sand; You Stepped Out of a Dream; If You Could See Me Now; Frank Fuller's Waltz; Some Other Time; The Best Thing For You.
PERSONNEL: Paul Combs, soprano and baritone saxes, flute, vocals; Tony Zano, piano; John Lockwood, bass; Joe Hunt, drums.
By John Barrett, Jr.
Each of his albums sounds different - this one especially. His band starts "Estate," in a nice pulsing rhythm; it grows soft, and you wait for the sax solo. Instead, he sings: a warm voice, calm and wrinkled at the edges. It's plain and sincere, with the lightest vibrato - like an older Chet Baker. Behind him a melodic fog: twinkling keys, and a drizzle from the brushes. When the voice stops, the flute leaps in - it's earthy, and full of sweet sadness.
"Never Been In Love" takes faster pace; Lockwood's "walk" is almost a jog! Paul joins him, with deft phrasing: the lines start to ugh (sic), and end in light quavers. The high notes elude him; the moods are just right. Take the baritone sax: Paul's rumpled bounce leads to a more active piano. All is quiet on "What Difference": Paul lingers on every word, almost whispering in your ear. Zano is full of soft chords; they stir gentle breezes and embrace the sax (soprano this time.) He also has a quote of "Simple Gifts" - this is one, and it's simply good.
The band offers sterling support, always strong and never overbearing. The drums turn exotic for "Moon and Sand," pounding in parallel to Lockwood. Subdued at first, Paul steps forth, a voice that conveys the tune's mystery. Hear the soprano walk up the stairs; feel Zano's warmth as he calls from a distance. "Out of a Dream" has a most assured voice - some of Sinatra's phrasing, and more of that baritone. Listen close to Lockwood; his walk has a lot of charm. And you can't get more lonely than "If You Could See Me": a heartbeat bass, a handful of keys, and a man sobbing to himself. This is slower than normal, less flamboyant - and more real. This is why instrumentalists sing - what they lack in the throat they have in the heart.
"Fuller's Waltz" is the only original, and the lone instrumental. Tony recalls Tyner in his lush display, while the soprano goes in happy zigzags. It's a mannered little dance: always knows it's going and is never less than lovely. "Some Other Time" goes faster than normal, with the feel of a barroom. Paul is relaxed, his tone is cheerful, and the high notes are no trouble at all. If you hear one track, make it this one.
The follow-up is equally nice: "The Best Thing for You," sung with a child's joy. Nothing is held back - Paul Starts strong, is voice is firm, the sax bounces good, and he leaves the tune by scaling and octave.
The things you can do on a labor of love.