Wonderful recordings have resulted from the collaboration of US and Canadian jazz artists on the west coast during the past decade. The state of Washington and province of British Columbia musicians seem to have an affinity that does not exist in other "cross-border" areas. The Bellingham Sessions were recorded in July 1998 at the University of Western Washington and include the Canadian pianist, Miles Black, of Surrey, B.C. as the "Canuck" component.
The quartet takes us on a tour of compositions by Chuck Israels, Miles Black, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington ,Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter. Be prepared for some of the most delightful "small group" jazz you've ever heard. Chuck Israels proves just why he is one of the busiest bassists in jazz today. Drummer, Donald Bailey, is a veteran of sessions with Carmen McRae and organist Jimmy Smith. The ultra - smooth guitarist, Don Faehnle, is a regular with Leroy Vinnegar's fine quartet. Miles Black is well known in Canadian jazz circles and if you happen to be a musician using MIDI technology, you'll recognize Miles as the writer of the "Band in a Box" midi software.
The tunes include Johnny Come Lately, Shenandoah, I Concentrate on You, and Strayhorn's "Blood Count." In total there are nine tracks of generous length providing almost an hour of great jazz. The musicians all subscribe to John Garvey's motto of "Play as if you couldn't speak."
Listen closely and you'll be well rewarded. This CD gets my highest recommendation.