"George Rabbai play(s) each of these Bebop classics using a different type or make of mute. So he plays 'Scrapple from the Apple' on a cup mute made of mica while he plays 'Dexterity' with a stone-lined cup mute...And indeed, they do sound different with the mica mute a little rounded and the stone-lined brighter with a bit of a quack. Rabbai picks a trio format (except 'Half Nelson' where heís joined by his student, Jon Barnes) with guitar and bass that exposes the different textures. The combination of the drummer-less combo and the muted lead horn also does bring out certain lyrical qualities in these tunes that often get overlooked in more traditional hell-bent jam situations. The composers in the so-called Hard Bop explored the lyrical possibilities of all those extended harmonies that Beboppers indulged in. The inclusion of Tadd Dameronís 'Hot House' is an especially apt choice. Iíve always felt that the tune served as a bridge between the two styles. And Rabbaiís clean, colorful playing brings this out. Heís deeply rooted in the style, but not indebted to any one player. Same is true of his compatriots. Guitarist Brian Betz has a fluid style that harks back in spots to Swing guitarists. Bassist Steve Varner is solid, providing just the rhythmic propulsion and harmonic resonance the musicians and the tunes deserve."
"This is muted bebop and I like it...bebop is mainstream. Muted Bebop, recorded in Philadelphia during 2006 is cool, relaxed, but no less technically demanding. Except for 'Half Nelson' by Miles Davis the tunes are Parker anthems, many played in Bird's group by a teen-aged Miles at the start of his influential career.
What is accomplished with just three instruments (trumpet, guitar, and bass) reflects the strength of the musicians. George Rabbai is a trumpet master who toured and recorded extensively with the Woody Herman orchestra during the eighties. Both he and guitarist Brian Betz are associated with the Maynard Ferguson Institute of Jazz at Rowan University in New Jersey.
From the relatively unadorned blues, 'Bluebird,' to the high-intensity 'Scrapple,' Rabbai varies the musical flavor and salutes Miles through the use of a variety of cup, bucket and Harmon mutes. He and Betz are very much together on the tricky unison opening and closing choruses and both solo with dexterity. Bop without a drummer demands strong support by the bassist, and Steve Varner is just right. On 'Half Nelson' the group is augmented by Jon Barnes, a promising young trumpeter.
Today's bebop ... and very tasty."
"This trio set rolls by in a reverie.
...a gilded and pleasant take of bebop tunes.
In other hands, this collection of mostly Charlie Parker originals can be challenging and even harsh; here, the trio is all liquid and legato.
...The collaboration focuses on classic and lesser-known Bird tunes, from 'Yardbird Suite' to 'Chi Chi,' and includes one Miles Davis tune, 'Half Nelson,' which flows gently like the others.
...the vibe is recommended."
- Philadelphia Inquirer
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