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Jazz Journal offers unrivalled coverage of recorded jazz old and new, with more than 20,000 words of expert comment and discography on recent jazz releases in every issue

Complete list of albums reviewed in JJ October 2017 (see below for excerpts):

ACT Family Band: The Jubilee Concerts (ACT 9860)
Allen, JD: Radio Flyer (Savant 2162)
Allen, Tony: The Source (Blue Note, no number)
Allen, Tony: A Tribute To Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers (Blue Note, no number)
Anderson, Peter/& Will: Clarinet Summit (SteepleChase 33133)
Antheil, George: Modern Times (Capriccio 5309)
Baldych, Adam/Helge Lien Trio: Brothers (ACT 9817)
Barnes, Alan/Pat McCarthy/Josie Moon: Fish Tales (Woodville 149)
Bates, Django: Saluting Sgt. Pepper (Edition 1094)
Berroa, Ignacio: Straight Ahead From Havana (Codes Drum Music 040232590801)
Bonifazi, Federico: E.74 St. (SteepleChase 33135)
Carroll, Liane: The Right To Love (Quiet Money 0004)
Charles, Ray: Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music Vols. 1 & 2 (State Of Art 81190)
Clarke, Kenny/Francy Boland/Big Band: All Smiles (MPS 0211956MSW)
Coltrane, John: European Tour 1961 (Le Chant Du Monde 574 2745 51)
Coltrane, John: Giant Steps (Atlantic 081227944698)
Davis, Miles: The Cinema Of Miles Davis (Él Records ACMEM330)
DeJohnette/Grenadier/Medeski/Scofield: Hudson (Motéma 0228)
Eade, Dominique/Ran Blake: Town & Country (Sunnyside 1484)
Eagles, Samuel/Spirit: Ask Seek Knock (Whirlwind 4709)
Eisenstadt, Harris: Recent Developments (Songlines 1620)
Ellis, Don/Orchestra: Soaring (MPS 0211977MSW)
Evans, Bill/Trio: Portrait In Jazz (State Of Art 81187)
Fusco, Andy: Joy-Riding (SteepleChase 31831)
Gardony, Laszlo: Serious Play (Sunnyside 4029)
Haffner, Wolfgang: Kind Of Spain (ACT 9848)
Hammer, Tardo/Trio: Swinging On A Star (Cellar Live 010717)
Harriott, Joe/& Co: Helter Skelter Live, Rare & Unreleased 1955-1963 (Acrobat 4392)
Henderson, Joe/Alice Coltrane: The Elements (Milestone 00001)
Hubbard, Freddie: Four Classic Albums (Avid Jazz 1244)
Ibrahim, Abdullah: Ancient Africa (Sackville 3049)
Iyer, Vijay/Sextet: Far From Over (ECM 576 7386)
Jevtovic, Dusan: No Answer (MoonJune 085)
Knuffke, Kirk: Cherryco (SteepleChase 31832)
Lindgren, Magnus: Stockholm Underground (ACT 9846)
Lyttelton, Humphrey: Dusting Off The Archives (Lake 352)
Machine Mass: Machine Mass Plays Hendrix (MoonJune 084)
Mangelsdorff, Albert: Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends (MPS 0211961MSW)
Mangelsdorff, Albert: The Jazz Sextet Feat. Tony Scott (NDR Edition 05)
McBride, Christian/Big Band: Bringin' It (Mack Avenue 1115)
Meyer, Björn: Provenance (ECM 574 1917)
Micus, Stephan: Inland Sea (ECM 575 6547)
Mitchell, Robert: A Vigil For Justice (Depth of Field 001)
Mitchell, Roscoe: Bells For The South Side (ECM 571 1952)
Monk, Thelonious/John Coltrane: Complete 1957 Riverside (Craft Recordings 00001, vinyl)
Montgomery, Wes: The Incredible Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery (State Of Art 81182)
Morrison, Barbara: I Wanna Be Loved (Savant 2164)
Mouzon, Alphonse: In Search Of A Dream (MPS 0211966MSW)
New Vision Sax Ensemble: Musical Journey Through Time (
Nika Project: Elusive (QFTF 027)
Palermo, Ed/Big Band: The Great Un-American Songbook: Volumes I & II (Cuneiform Rune 435/436)
Peacock, Gary: Tangents (ECM 574 1910)
Raeburn, Boyd: The Boyd Raeburn Collection 1944-48 (Fabulous 2062)
Riley, Stephen/Peter Zak: Deuce (SteepleChase 31825)
Rypdal, Terje: Bleak House (Round 2 Records 2LP008, vinyl)
Salvant, Cecile McLorin: Dreams And Daggers (Mack Avenue 1120)
São Paulo Underground: Cantos Invisíveis (Cuneiform Rune 423)
Simkins, Geoff/Trio: In A Quiet Way (Symbol 20170301)
Sipiagin, Alex: Moments Captured (Criss Cross 1395)
Skelton/Skinner All Stars: The Odd Couple (Diving Duck 025)
Skidmore, Alan: After The Rain (Miles Music 084)
Stryker, Dave: Strykin' Ahead (Strikezone 8815)
Tepfer, Dan/Trio; Eleven Cages (Sunnyside 1442)
Thielemans, Toots; Ne Me Quitte Pas (Milan Music 301 719-8)
Thompson, Lucky: The All Star Orchestra Sessions, In Paris 1956 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 938)
Thompson, Lucky: Complete Parisian Small Group Sessions 1956-1959 (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 933)
Three Fall/& Melane: Four (ACT 9676)
Various: Sky Music/A Tribute To Terje Rypdal (Rune Grammofon 2194)
Various: Groovin' High: Jam Session At The Hopbine 1965 (Acrobat 4393)
Vein: Vein Plays Ravel (Double Moon/Challenge 71179)
Westbrook, Mike/Concert Band: Marching Song (Turtle 500)
Windfeld, Kathrine/Big Band: Latency (Stunt 17062)
Windhurst, Johnny: The Imaginative Johnny Windhurst (Retrospective 4316)
Winther, Carl/Jerry Bergonzi: Inner Journey (SteepleChase 33134)
Zeitlin, Denny/George Marsh: Expedition (Sunnyside 1487)

Examples of the 75 album reviews in this issue (see a free sample of full print reviews; subscribe to see 12 months of Jazz Journal
including over 20,000 words of CD review each issue):

Baldych has recorded some fine music for ACT recently, including his contributions to Iiro Rantala’s My History Of Jazz and Anyone With A Heart. If you play this latest session from the young Polish virtuoso after listening to his previous ACT releases Imaginary Room and Bridges, a growing distillation of feeling and form, allied to a fructifying breadth and depth of musical resource and poetic sensibility, is pleasingly evident.

Less rhythmically upfront – but nevertheless as compelling – as the award-winning Bridges, Brothers shows how far Baldych and his fellow travellers have gone beyond old and sometimes laboured ideas of third-stream music, cultivating an organic confluence of ideas and inspiration as free-flowing as it is ultra-disciplined. Witness the transition from the hushed chamber music intimacy and intensity of the brief violin and piano duet that is Prelude to the rock-like power of the searing violin figures and group dynamics in the opening moments of the following Elegy – or the way in which such thematic signposts give way to the lyricism of Lien’s beautifully sprung solo.

Baldych’s trademark pizzicato touch and sound distinguish the tender and folk-like Love, one of the finest pieces here: his spacious, patiently stepped figures are followed by a typically nuanced transition in the group dynamics, precipitating a further excellent outing from Lien. Brunborg’s carefully weighted Nordic tenor enriches several cuts, including the passionate title track, and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah has, to my ears, rarely sounded better, its opening bars reprising the fragile pensiveness of Prelude before the Baldych/Lien arrangement soars high and wide. A beautiful album. (Michael Tucker) *****

There is a world of difference between covering a famous song and covering a famous album. There are some recordings that are so big, so monumental, that anything performed other than by the original artist is simply unacceptable. That is not musical intolerance or snobbishness - it is just a fact! Sgt. Pepper is one of those albums. It is legendary in every sense of the word.

Django Bates and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band clearly intended to pay homage to the Beatles and their recording. As the title implies, they wanted to salute Sgt. Pepper. They wanted to mark the 50th anniversary of its release and I have no problem with any of that. But it should have stopped at live performances or a radio show, not advanced to CD.

The musicianship is good and the cover versions passable. The big band doesn’t sound out of place because the Beatles made a big sound themselves. Bates explains in the press release that he “folds his own colours, rhythms and sound into the music, resulting in a thoroughly kaleidoscopic examination of this iconic album”. But therein lies the problem. Whilst there is some attempt to interpret, vary and improvise, the songs are so famous that they constantly have to be pulled back to how they have to be played – otherwise the salute becomes a farewell wave!

It doesn’t help that the songs are played in the same track order as the original (inevitable – but inviting more comparison) and include many of the peculiar vocal phrasings unique to the Beatles. To my ear, it is less a salute and more a pale imitation. It would be unkind to call it karaoke because the musicians deserve better than that; but I would prefer to watch the Bootleg Beatles than listen to this. (Ian Lomax) **

Before you get to the music, which is dramatically arranged and executed by four of the most celebrated musicians in jazz, there are some lavish liner notes by noted critic Peter Occhiogrosso that paint a romantic picture of how this band first bonded on a festival date they played together in 2014, relocated to the Hudson Valley (where they all still reside) and made this stunning album. The text also quite boldly describes the record as “a conversation you will never tire of listening to” which is an on-the-money observation of an album that oozes imaginative interplay and flows fluently between original cuts from the collective and classic rock tracks linked to the region or the Woodstock festival of 1969.

Swirling organ and a dry, distorted guitar figure open the record over a repetitive bass and drum groove that wouldn’t sound out of step on Bitches Brew. From here come a couple of Bob Dylan tunes respectively swung or reimagined in a reggae style, Scofield firing funk licks over a Hendrix hit, Joni’s Woodstock bounced out as a bossa, and a rendition of The Band’s Up On Cripple Creek hung around some shrill boogie-woogie piano from Medeski.

Naturally, the arranging and rock-to-jazz orchestration throughout is inspired, but then so are the fresh cuts by Scofield and DeJohnette on offer, tunes that simply sit and swing but manage to take the record and listener somewhere else, whether it be to the roots of the music or the pastoral mountains that adorn the sleeve of this sublime set. (Mark Youll) ****


An exceptionally talented singer, Eade is deeply involved in education at the New England Conservatory and records only seldom, which is a loss to the world of jazz singing. Since 1978, she has been musically associated with Blake with whom she shares a desire to explore all the many audible and emotional layers of music. Eade has a delightful singing voice, a thorough understanding of music, a questing mind, and the ability to delve to the core of the songs she sings.

Her chosen repertoire here is decidedly eclectic, drawing upon many aspects of American culture. Included is music by Bob Dylan, Charles Ives, Karl Suessdorf and John Blackburn, Walter Schumann (from the classic film, The Night Of The Hunter), Johnny Cash, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, Gunther Schuller, Nelson Riddle and Stanley Styne (from TV’s Route 66), Jean Ritchie and Huddie Ledbetter, as well as a traditional spiritual. Despite the wide-ranging origins of these songs, they become a whole because they represent the diversity that is America.

As the album title and the nature of the songs suggests, that diversity is explored through places and events in a country presently questioning its identity. The successful execution of the concept is testimony to the skill and musical integrity of Eade and Blake. A very good, beautifully sung and played album on which everything heard blends seamlessly into a rewarding whole. (Bruce Crowther) ****

From the outset, you just know that this is going to be a strong outing for Iyer and his band. After a lyrical piano introduction to Poles, the sextet quickly swings into action, the frontline piling up notes on top of each other before Iyer’s expansive comping supports the first solo, from Steve Lehman’s acidic alto.

The urgency shown on this opener barely lets up, with the title track an equally ebullient outing. Nope is a bass-heavy funkster, the electric End Of The Tunnel something Miles might have included on Black Beauty or Dark Magus. Best of all is Down To The Wire, a fast and furious tangle of interweaving horn lines. Not everything is so fierce, with both For Amiri Baraka and Threnody elegiac in mood and slow in pace, while Wake is all breathy exhalation at a funeral pace.

Iyer is both an arresting pianist – although I find him less commanding on electric piano – and a convincing composer; the title track in particular full of melodic hooks and complex structures. His arrangements bring out the deeper tones and textures of his band, in a good contrast to the fire of their delivery. Iyer just keeps getting stronger with each outing, and this is his best set so far. Enjoy. (Simon Adams) ****


Critics have sometimes treated Albert Mangelsdorff’s earlier, straightahead stuff with the same gentle indulgence accorded to, say, Steve Lacy’s Dixieland work, as if it was mere prentice-work and a slightly gauche prelude to the serious avant-garde experiments to come. I’d say that the trombonist’s essence as a musician was already active on this deceptively light radio set, made before he turned 30. The same critics have made equally patronising allowances for the Mangelsdorff brothers, who grew up in Frankfurt’s wartime jazz cellars, shaping their chops in remote worship of American models.

Albert wasn’t JJ mit ein Cherman accent. He was a genuine original, whose songful playing drew from a wide-ranging musicianship and a formidable grasp of structure. The trombone-flute-oboe front line is unusual but too grainy and edgy to be dismissed as routine “West Coast”. Cooper’s oboe work is a wonder, even if I did wonder whether he hadn’t sneakily switched to another reed on Love Is Here To Stay. Shank plays some great and predictably lovely lines, and Albert has some gloriously paced spots. Zoller keeps it all moving along, especially on a superfast Lullaby Of Birdland.

The set is dominated by a long (20 minute) reading of Yesterdays, and a long feature for guest Tony Scott. It’s close-recorded, so a bit breathy, but it contributes to a wonderful one-off, fruit of a German tour by a (notional) leader who was just about to help transform European jazz into something distinctive and in no way slavishly derivative. Here, he tips his hat respectfully to the American mainstream. (Brian Morton) ****

There are shades of This Is Spinal Tap in the spoken cod English-accented introductions. In mitigation, they’re funny and like Rob Reiner’s film, assail the pretentious pomposity of progressive rock. The music however is some- thing else.

Ed Palermo is now surely the musical world’s greatest Zappa-phile, having released four (and a half) albums devoted to the maestro’s songs. But this album is aimed at resurrecting and reimagining some classic 60s and early 70s rock, plus some less well-known tracks, mostly, but not exclusively, of British derivation, hence the brilliant title. There are even a few contemporary numbers thrown in for good measure such as Green Day’s American Idiot which is appropriately segued with the Nice’s version of America and Radiohead’s The Tourist. Miles Davis even gets a nod with a sumptuous version of Nardis squeezed in among George Harrison’s Don’t Bother Me.

Palermo’s arrangements are typically spectacular, facilitating some truly excellent ensemble playing and imaginative and engaging solos. Katie Jacoby provides an incendiary violin solo on Nicky Hopkins’s lengthy Edward, The Mad Shirt Grinder. Arthur Brown’s Fire, on which Napoleon Murphy Brock turns in a respectable impersonation of the old pyromaniac, is elevated by the magnificent big band arrangement. There are some clever quotes subtly inserted into the tracks. A snatch of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana links to the opening of Eleanor Rigby, Zappa’s Oh No appears at the end of King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part Two. Send Your Son To Die quotes Lennon and McCartney’s I Wanna Be Your Man (appearing in full later) and even Wayne Shorter’s Footprints turns up on Bitches Crystal.

In 1986 Zappa released the album Does Humor Belong In Music? In the case of Ed Palermo, the answer has to be an emphatic “yes”. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate the Zappa-esque version of Her Majesty, tagged (uncredited) onto the end of Good Night either has a humour deficiency or just doesn’t get Palermo’s schtick at all. Roll on Volumes III & IV. (Roger Farbey) ****

This talented septet swings stylishly and joyously through a well-chosen selection of mainly classic mainstream standards. The title track, Neil Hefti’s The Odd Couple, is a self- deprecating allusion to the co-leaders’ “foibles” in leading the band, Skinner explains. But there’s nothing odd about the fine music on this album.

Ellington and Basie are prime sources of inspiration. Skinner’s excellent arrangements, impeccably performed, imbue each track with harmonic richness and rhythmic variety. Joining him in the reed section, Alan Barnes’ warmly expressive baritone is richly satisfying in Strayhorn’s After All, equalled by a fine ballad feature from trombonist Gordon Campbell in Emily, benefiting from another outstanding arrangement. Mike Lovatt’s accomplished trumpet, bright and light-toned, skips confidently through Warren Vaché’s loping Off We Go. The rhythm section is tightly cohesive, balanced and supple in support, ensuring well-balanced all-round rapport within the group.

Ticking all the boxes, this is a fine album. Hopefully, further, very welcome “oddity” will soon follow! (Hugh Rainey) *****

Tepfer’s own notes explain that the cages of the title are the structures of these compositions (nine of which are his) from which the jazz musician doesn’t try to escape but to find, in Tepfer’s words, “as much wriggle room as possible”. This seems to be the pianist’s eighth CD under his own name and it was probably his treatment of the Goldberg Variations which made the most impact among his earlier releases. The son of American parents but born in Paris he studied classical piano there but eventually found more satisfaction in jazz. He can be heard speaking eloquently of that satisfaction on YouTube where you can also learn of his pleasure in playing and touring with Lee Konitz.

That connection is interesting because of the evident link between Tepfer’s playing and that of Konitz’s earlier associate – Lennie Tristano. The two pianists share a singular clarity of line, a strongly percussive approach and an interest in experiment. Here the experimentation comes in terms of rhythm and Morgan and Wood are willing accomplices in the rhythmic games while retaining a powerful swing throughout. Melody isn’t ignored, however, and the slow Minor Fail and Porgy offer a more delicate touch and gentler emotion. And here the ability of Morgan to transmit feeling through his challenging instrument is particularly clear.

The opening track however is more characteristic of the programme as a whole. Over a powerful but slightly disjointed rhythm from drums and bass Tepfer develops seemingly simple phrases into a coherent line before handing over briefly to Morgan and then returning for a finale in which the drumming becomes increasingly important. As contemporary piano trios go this must be one of the best around. (Graham Colombé) ****

One of the great tenor saxophonists to emerge at the close of the swing era, Lucky Thompson made his first notable recordings with Parker, Gillespie and Miles Davis. But the ironically named Lucky had a truncated career – partly due to his disenchantment with and criticisms of the “vultures” in the American music “industry” with their discriminatory treatment of African-American musicians. More recently, he has attracted the favourable attention of critics, impressed by his distinctive musical voice – derived from Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry, Ben Webster and (most importantly) Don Byas. A player of high intelligence, elegance and virtuosity (on both tenor and later soprano), Thompson spent several years from the mid-1950s in self-imposed exile in Paris where he produced some of his best work.

These aptly titled All Star Orchestra Sessions find Lucky in commanding form on the Tentette dates, featuring Henri Renaud playing West Coast flavoured compositions like Souscription, Marcel The Furrier and Meet Quincy Jones. On all 21 tracks, an alternately driving and rhapsodic Thompson receives unswerving support from some relatively unknown French jazz players – and such veterans as pianist Renaud and drummer Pochonet. One outstanding take is Thompson’s moving solo on his own composition, A Sunkissed Rose.

Even more satisfying are the small group sessions, which put Lucky in the welcoming and distinguished company of (among others) Solal, Renaud, Emmett Berry, Sammy Price, Kenny Clarke, and Pierre Michelot. With pertinent booklet notes by Jordi Pujol (and photos of an obviously happy Thompson) this box set must be one of the year’s most significant issues.

Necessarily brief comments on just a few of the 74 titles on these splendid recordings can only hint at the riches to be found on all four CDs. The sessions with Berry, Renaud, Pochonet and Quersin include several impressive Thompson compositions – Thin Ice, Minor Delight, Takin’ Care O’Business, and One Cool Night. An arresting ballad medley (Sophisticated Lady/These Foolish Things) has a tightly muted and open horn Berry in superlative form. Martial Solal’s quartet appearances with Thompson – who called him “one of the most outstanding pianists I have ever heard” – more than justify the claim on One Last Goodbye and Velvet Rain. Their rapport is palpable. The sessions with a “primitive” Sammy Price and “modernist” Thompson find both men in unlikely but happy harmony, especially on Paris Blues and Sweet Georgia Brown. In the final 1959 dates, Lucky creates gentle and perfectly phrased versions of Together Again and Don’t Blame Me. On Soul Food and Brother Bob he plays joyous (pre-Coltrane) soprano, accompanied by dexterous conga drummer Prinze Ghana M’Bow.

These seminal French sessions helped bring Thompson to the attention of an international audience. The 1997 release of some other 1961 Paris recordings as the CD Lord, Lord, Am I Ever Gonna Know?, compiled by Mark Gardner, further confirmed Thompson’s stature. Back in America, he made two fine late recordings – Lucky Strikes (1964) and Lucky Meets Tommy [Flanagan] (1965) – but increasingly embittered, he “retired” in 1974. As his health declined, he sold his saxophones to pay for dental work, and ended his life in poverty in Seattle, Washington in 2005. (John White) ****/*****

I could be accused of being profligate with stars, but for me the mere presence of Jerry Bergonzi justifies a fourth. In an area of the music that’s not exactly under populated he stands out by dint of personality and individual expression, amongst other things. In the company of Tyneresque pianist Carl Winther and a sympathetic bass and drums team Bergonzi ostensibly fronts a quartet that knows exactly what it’s doing and goes about ts business with commitment and no little skill.

It could be argued that tonally Bergonzi is to the present day what Wayne Shorter was to the 1960s. Ally that impression with a similarly intense but ultimately very different musicality, as is to be heard on Talisman, and you have a musician whose every solo repays close scrutiny. While Winther’s originals such as Golem are not all that melodically memorable, they’re more than outlines for blowing on. The same goes for Mogensen’s Wheel Of Fortune, which is compellingly wistful, with both Winther and Bergonzi mining diamonds from its seam.

While this set has all the customary hallmarks (four variously seasoned pros casually getting together in a studio and all that) the results have a lot more going for them than this might suggest. This for me is due in no small part to Bergonzi’s presence, but then he wouldn’t be half as effective as he is without the empathy of the other three. (Nic Jones) ****

In brief...

The players include Jan Lundgren (p), Nguyên Lê (elg), Dieter Ilg (b) and Morten Lund (d). This live celebration of the 25th anniversary of ACT ranges from the tender Landgren/Wollny duet Send In The Clowns to the rocking and ringing Dodge The Dodo, the Esbjørn Svensson classic given a lusty reading by a sparkling octet featuring the late pianist’s off-spring Ruben (elg) and Noa (d) as well as, a.o., Iiro Rantala (p) and Adam Baldych (vn). There’s plenty of mellow funk, plus, e.g., exploratory duets from Danielsson and Ilg and Joachim Kuhn (p) and Emil Parisien (as). The tasty whole is topped off by the rousing all-in finale We Are Family, featuring Ida Sand (v). (Michael Tucker) ****

The diffident keyboard intros to classics such as Purple Haze and Burning Of The Midnight Lamp don’t quite ameliorate the money-shot stunt guitar bursts, which invariably, unsurprisingly, fail to reach a satisfying crescendo. This criticism is a little unfair because surely any attempt at an album of Hendrix tunes poses a very tall order indeed. At best, the tracks are successful at an impressionistic level and thankfully the much-recorded Little Wing is treated with respectful subtlety. Inevitably there will be comparisons made between this and Gil Evans’s The Music Of Jimi Hendrix. Suffice it to say the Evans version works much better. (Roger Farbey) **

At the core of this music, and of these fine musicians, is the blues. On this, the third album by singer and saxophonist, all their many admirable qualities are very much in evidence. They don’t just play the blues, they live them. Their blues and blues-inflected popular repertoire includes very enjoyable performances of songs such as This Time The Dream’s On Me, Skylark, Work Song, and September In The Rain. Not as earthy as some blues singers, Morrison has a vocal sound that is fluid and warm. Person, who appears on eight of the 11 tracks, is a past master in the art of accompanying a singer. Recommended. (Bruce Crowther) ****

Two CDs combining live recordings from the Village Vanguard with studio tracks (some with strings). Salvant moves between fairly straight renditions to more open interpretations. Her voice is always expressive and she’s more than willing to take the vocal line in unexpected directions. Some performances tend towards the over-dramatic and some songs get stretched too far – a live performance of Weill and Hughes’s Somehow I Never Could Believe is an example of both. However, numbers such as her warm, funny take on Jule Styne’s If A Girl Isn’t Pretty and the heartbreaking You’re My Thrill are terrific. (Bruce Lindsay) ***


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