Jane Ira Bloom

Arabesque

Though soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom refers to this date as the “ballad collection I have always wanted to do,” don’t fool yourself into thinking it lacks the inventive melodies and muscular, original nods to swing associated with more uptempo Bloom titles, such as “NFL” and “Rapture of the Flat.” Compositions like “b6 Bop” and “Wing Dining” memorably prove the opposite. Still, like Ben Webster and Johnny Hodges, Bloom is one of the all-time great ballad players, so it is a thrill to have reprises of her tender, questing interpretations of “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” (which follows her equally tender, probing title “Midnight’s Measure”) and the lovely “Painting Over Paris,” which also highlights her gorgeous tone and the care with which she shapes every phrase. Bloom is also surrounded by stellar company throughout this recording, with noteworthy contributions coming from longtime associates pianist Fred Hersch and trumpeter/flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler, as well as from drummer Bobby Previte and the sadly underrecorded trombonist Julian Priester, whose aural colors surround Bloom’s essaying of the title track like doo-wop singers harmonizing beneath a streetlamp on a warm summer night. CP