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Don Rice takes the standards to a high level By Mary Kunz Goldman NEWS CRITIC A   die-hard   Jazz   at   the   Albright-Knox   regular   said   that   by   his   estimate,   Sunday's   was   the biggest crowd this summer at the Buffalo News-sponsored free jazz festival. And why not? It   was   a   perfect   day   —   breezy   and   cool,   with   clouds   here   and   there.   And   we   had saxophonist   Don   Rice   and   the   Bobby   Jones   Trio.   If   you   were   out   of   town   and   wandered   into   a club   and   heard   this   combo,   you   would   feel   lucky   and   come   home   brag­ging   to   your   friends. They are that good Don   Rice   has   a   laid-back,   whispery   sound   —   I   want   to   say West   Coast,   but   it   is   more   soul­ful   than   that   I   imagine   he   takes his   cues   from   the   great   saxo­phonist   Lester Young,   and   those   who followed   Lester   Young,   maybe   Zoot   Sims.   Some­one   else   in   the crowd brought upStanGetz. Anyway,   we   are   talking   a   tenor   sax   style   that   is   low   and slow   and,   even   in   uptempo   numbers,   full   of   soul   and   nos­talgia. There   was   never   a   dull   moment   in   the   two   sets,   as   Rice   took   us through    standard    after    standard,    with    a    few    bop    num­bers thrown in. Some   things   were,   glorious­ly,   just   what   you   hoped   for.   A ballad   medley   began   with   "These   Foolish Things"   —   see,   I   told   you he   was   thinking   of   Les­ter   Young.   It   continued   with   "Don't   Blame Me"   and   Don't   Take   Your   Love   From   Me."   Rice's   breathy   tone   sometimes,    thrillingly,    barely    audible—    seemed    to    make    the after­noon stand still. At   the   same   time,   Rice   liked   to   surprise   you.   He   did   some ballads   uptempo.   "Yesterdays"   fared   well   that   way.   He   also   did   a bittersweet   "East   of   the   Sun   (and   West   of   the   Moon),"   and   'There Is No Greater Love" (with Bobby Jones contributing a fine, bluesy solo). And   talk   about   a   surprise.   'We   want   to   be   the   first   people   to   wish   you   Merry   Christmas and   Happy   Holidays,"   Rice   told   us.   The   group   proceeded   to   play   "The   Christmas   Song."   So   cool— and cooling. "Like   Someone   in   Love"   was   lovely. A   brisk   “Tenor   Madness"   featured   a   lightning-quick   solo by   bassist   Jim   Colemon.   "St.   Thomas,"   a   tune   that   belongs   to   the   drummer,   warranted   a   crisp solo   from   drummer   Dan­ny   Hull   This   is   a   traditional   Jazz   at   the   Albright-Knox   num­ber.   I   was thinking   of   how   often   I   have   enjoyed   it   as   I   lay   kicked   back,   baking   in   the   sun.   We   should demand that all partici­pants play it A   very   talented   15-year-old   pianist,   Harry   Brazier,   also   took   a   turn   at   the   keyboard.   He had a sure touch and a fine energy about him. Bobby Jones brought out the bluesy underpinnings of "Cen­terpiece." Which   reminds   me:   I   realize   we   are   dealing   with   outdoor   re­alities,   but   I   found   myself wish­ing   for   an   acoustic   piano.   The   electric   piano   can   just   sound   so   hokey,   and   does   not   do justice   either   to   the   pianists'   talents   or   to   Rice's   subtleties.   Jones   likes   electronics   —   I   thought   I could    hear    him    playing    with    the    sound    —    but    oh,    to    hear    this    group    with    more    pristine acous­tics. Well, that is high praise. As it is, I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. It was a wonderful afternoon. The   Sunday   coming   up   brings   the   Buffalo   State   Re­union   Big   Band.   They   should   be   great, but they've got a tough act to follow. e-mail: mkunz@buffnews.com Concert Review Don Rice & His Mellow Tenor Sax Part   of   the   Jazz   at   the Albright-Knox   free   concert   series.   Sunday   afternoon   on   Shakespeare   Hill, Delaware Park.
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