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Full Review --LOVE NOTES 
 Detroit Jazz Magazine, November 1997
CD Review - Bess Bonnier Love Notes
by Mitch Genova
 Pianist Bess Bonnier has had a longstanding love affair with music, and Detroit jazz fans have shared this love for her music for decades. We are now treated with this fine set of Love Notes from our First Lady of Jazz.

Bess has been a mainstay on the Detroit jazz scene since the days of the fine Downtown dinner clubs. She was a regular performer at Jack Brokensha's, when the great vibist from Down-Under had his own dinner club, and she also appeared regularly at the Top of The Flame, as well as the Pontchartrain. She continues to perform at local clubs and concerts, and until recently held forth every Monday evening at the Blue Pointe Restaurant on the east side, where she lives. She also appeared at the Michigan Jazz Festival this summer at the Botsford Inn. If you are not familiar with the music of Bess Bonnier, this CD is a great introduction. If you were a fan of Bess', and haven't heard her recently, this CD will serve to renew an old acquaintance.

Bess is joined in this set by bassist and jazz provocateur Paul Keller, a kindred spirit whom she first met in 1984 and who shares her unique and oblique sense of musical fun. Paul is known to many of you as the leader of the Bird of Paradise Orchestra and as co-leader, with Cary Kocher, of the Keller/Kocher Quartet, which like the BOPO appears frequently at the Bird of Paradise in Ann Arbor.

Cary Kocher on vibes and Pete Siers on drums, also from the Keller/Kocher Quartet, round out the roster, giving Bess an accompanying group that regularly performs together as a unit. The result is a very tight and well-rehearsed set that is also very relaxed and loose.

The program features several tunes that are classics of Great American Song, as you would expect if you know Bess. Bess not only knows all the great songs of Kern, Porter, Rogers, Gershwin and Arlen, she even knows the little-performed verses. Here, Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are" begins with solo piano at ballad tempo, including the verse, before Bess is joined by the group at a light swing, ending with some delightful Baroque counterpoint between piano, vibes and bass. Richard Roger's "Spring is Here" is solo piano throughout with Bess providing a provocative reharmonization of this beautiful tune.

Reflecting Bess' creative tongue-in-cheek irreverence, "These Foolish Things" and "My Favorite Things" are combined so that the lyrics of each are sung against the tune of the other. Not only does it work, it plays! In "Ah, Paris!" four songs written about the French city are combined into a suite, ending with Dave Frishberg's irreverent "Another Song About Paris."

Of particular interest are the crisp and lively performances given to Clifford Brown's classic "Joy Spring," which opens the set, and Shorty Roger's less known "Aurex" which closes the set in swinging fashion. In between are a set of three fine gems composed by Bess. "Cote D'Azur" is a beautiful, stately three-quarter time, minor key theme that will trigger reminiscences of the French Riviera even if you have never been there. "Los Notas De Amor," which when translated becomes the title tune, is a fast-paced Samba which dances, sings, and drifts in and out of a walking four. Listen especially to the piano and vibes riffing behind Pete Sier's drum chords. "All of Paul" is Bess' tribute to her bassist and co-conspirator, and features a complex bop line over the changes of "All of Me" stated in unison by Bess, Cary and Paul, who makes the shift to the front line effortlessly.

Altogether, this is a set filled with love and joy, and a quirky exuberance. It is also a set perfectly performed by polished professionals at the top of their craft. Enjoy.
 

Full Reviews of LOVE NOTES: Related:
 Detroit Jazz Magazine - Nov 97
 SEMJA Update - Nov 97
 Robert Dupuis

 Read reviews of Suite William.

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