Peter Welker

Paradise Is Awfully Nice

33rd Street Records

Peter Welker, trumpet/flugelhorn/piano, Herb Pomeroy, trumpet; Ernie Watts, tenor; Steve Smith, drums; David Grisman, mandolin; and big band

A logical thought after reading the title of this CD would be 'How does he know?' We assume it is something to do with California. Still, wherever he did it, the 600 hours Welker spent on the writing has been to good effect. The arranger (recording engineer?) has thoughtfully given much volume to the bass, which, of course, is the essential element to anything claiming to groove. Mel Graves is not listed up front, along with Messrs Watts, Pomeroy, Smith and Grisman, but he jolly well ought to be. His work on "Just Friends" is exemplary. In fact the number has some of the best writing. Very straight forward, bang on the melody in the section work, everyone getting into the thing beautifully in the solos. The horns are lovely on Strayhorn's "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing". All of the band members hold well together throughout. Welker shows his stuff on "In Your Own Sweet Way", and right nice it is, too. We are again indebted to Graves on bass, who helps the rhythm section beyond the call of duty. Ernie Watts lays down a lucid solo, showing why he is a man to be reckoned with. Welker rounds of the event on piano with Ellington's "Come Sunday" ­ with blues elements, and all. He is aided by one Norton Buffalo, on tenor harmonica, and the piece works hauntingly well for the duo. An enjoyable, mostly big-band effort. Worth a place in anyone's collection.

by Lawrence Brazier

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