One ordinarily thinks of hard-swinging sessions as emanating from five- or six-piece units replete with horns and rhythm section, but at Charlie's last night two strings and a percussion instrument blew with the best of them. The leader, vibist Red Norvo, was one of those who wrote the book on small-group swing. As each number began last night he carefully and sparsely defined the essence of the tune. In that handful of notes was its melodic design and the manner of its swing. His solo feature, Bix Beiderbecke's "Candlelight," floated on air.
But one should not dwell upon Norvo, for all of his excellence, to the exclusion of the other two members of this thoroughly integrated group, guitarist Tal Farlow and bassist Steve Novosel. Indeed, the three passed back and forth the melodic and time-keeping chores so subtly that the listener did not consciously transfer attention from one to the other as the roles changed.
Farlow's blues-inflected bop accent and ability to maintain two simultaneous lines and Novosel's rhythmic adventures combined with the leader's relaxed swing and harmonic sophistication in a rapport that has almost gone out of style.
They stay through Sunday.