Frank at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival


With Frank Wess, the day’s headliner, the strictly-jazz crowd was on firm ground. Mr. Wess, at 87, remains a reliable messenger from another time: his shapely, easy-swinging saxophone solos in medium tempo were models of cool vernacular art. The notes went by softly, but the grammar and style of the solos were hard-boiled 1940s and ’50s: authoritatively lagging swing, bop flurries, virile ballad phrases, meaningful resolutions. He was brilliant in extended solos during Johnny Mandel’s ballad “A Time for Love” and used the uptempo “Billie’s Bounce” as his Parker reference, trading solos with the saxophonist Scott Robinson.

From the New York Times review 08/31/2009