Academic journal article Notes

For the Last Time

Academic journal article Notes

For the Last Time

Article excerpt

Ruby Braff. For the Last Time. Arbors ARCD 19368, 2008.

Whenever a great jazz musician dies, fans brace themselves for an onslaught of purportedly "last" recordings or performances. A few of those releases will be conscious attempts to cash in by deception, while others will be good-faith efforts that will later be corrected when other, slightly later tapes turn up. In the case of cornettist Ruby Braff, however, the present two-disc set does seem genuinely to document both his final live performance and his final recording of any kind. The concert took place at the Nairn Jazz Festival in Scotland in August of 2002, six months before he died. Together with tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, Braff leads a sextet through a program of the jazz standards to which he had dedicated the bulk of his career. Although Braff bristled at being called an exponent of "traditional" jazz, there is no getting around either his devotion to the American songbook or his honeytoned, unabashedly pre-bop playing style. His sidemen for this performance had something of a challenge: they needed to swing with confidence and authority, but they had to know that Braff's condition was frail and would not have wanted to push him past his ability to keep up. …

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