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BY GARAUD MACTAGGART

NEWS CONTRIBUTING REVIEWER

With George Gershwin's "Strike Up

the Band," Don Rice and the Bobby

Jones Trio kicked off a concert

long on up-tempo standards and

smooth-playing ballads drawn

from the Great American

Songbook.

In many ways, this was the perfect

song to herald the other songs in

Rice's concert, not necessarily

because of the actual tune but

because of the era in which it was

born. Music from the middle of

the 20th century dominated the

set list and that made for an

afternoon of musical comfort that

blended well with the pleasant

weather, the relatively clear skies

and the large, appreciative

audience, which was scattered,

for the most part, wherever there

was shade outside Albright-Knox

Art Gallery.

While Rice and his tenor

saxophone were the focus of the

program, the support crew was

there to make sure that things

went smoothly. Bassist Wayne

Moose and drummer Dan Hull

provided the backbone for the gig,

while keyboard legend Bobby

Jones was an alternate lead voice

for the ensemble when he wasn't

feeding chords for Rice to take off

on.

The second song of the set was

a great example of what was to

come. While the sax solo on

"When You're Smiling" was a

textbook example of mid-tempo

swing, the long, gorgeous solo

from Jones, sprinkled with a few

gospel- inspired measures, was a

great complement to the steady

pacing of the Moose and Hull

rhythm section.

Luiz Bonfa's "Manha de Carnival"

(aka "A Day in the Life of a

Fool") brought a bossa nova

element to the mix of chestnuts

before Rice stepped aside to

allow the trio a spotlight.

This spotlight came courtesy of

Miles Davis' "All Blues," with

Jones dipping into the gospel

bag one more time for his piano

intro before leading the rhythm

keepers through an inventive set

of riffs that highlighted, to some

extent, the different eras

influencing the trio when

compared to the leader.

Rice, trio ably represent eras of

Great American Songbook

After the intermission, Rice

reached into the hard bop

repertoire for an interesting riff

on Hank Mobley's "This I Dig of

You" that showed he could move

in those circles too before

calling his bandmates to join

him in earlier decades

for 'Touch of Your Lips" and

"Smile." In the midst of that set,

Rice stepped aside once again

and turned over the proceedings

to the trio, who wound their way

through a worthy take on

"Autumn Leaves."

The quartet's version of

"Canadian Sunset" came about

because the saxophon-ist was

inspired by a Gene Ammons

arrangement from 1960. This

may have been Rice's finest

moment of the afternoon, the

point where his playing rose

above musical pleasantry to

something more than spinning

well worn, audience-pleasing

phrases. The notes danced from

his horn and were met with

complementary offerings from

Jones, Moose, and Hull. There

were actually a couple of

audience members dancing to

the resulting art.

All things must end, however,

and Rice kicked off "That's All" as

a suitable concert closer. The

group was applauded and the

equipment was packed up, but

not before an announcement

was made of the season's final

concert next Sunday, a date with

Three Brothers and a Distant

Cousin, an ad hoc outfit

comprising some amazing local

jazz musicians.

Rice, trio ably represent eras

of Great American Songbook