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Jane Ira Bloom: Sixteen Sunsets / New City Music review

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The soprano saxophone has a naturally sweet sound and probably because of this it is favored by many smooth jazz players like Dave Koz and Jay Beckenstein. Another notable player is New York-based educator and composer Jane Ira Bloom, whose "Sixteen Sunsets" (Outline) is a collection of ballads played through a contemporary jazz point of view. The album begins with a beautiful rendition of "For All We Know" in which the bandleader improvises around the melody with a subtle back-beat from her quartet, rounded out by Cameron Brown (bass), Matt Wilson (drums) and Dominic Fallacaro (piano). She blends Gershwin's "Skyline" with "I Loves You Porgy" masterfully, and Fallacaro is featured in a gorgeous solo. The wedding reception mainstay "The Way You Look Tonight" is played as a saxophone and piano duet in a very slow tempo, allowing Bloom to stretch each note. "Good Morning Heartache" was a hit for Billie Holiday, and Bloom pays tribute to the late singer by playing it with the same mournful quality that too many performers seem to miss. "Sixteen Sunsets" is being released both in regular stereo and 5.1 high-resolution format which gives you the feeling of being inside a jazz club with the band. It is a great companion on a cold, snowy night. (Ernest Barteldes)