Frank Wess is turning 91 at Birdland!

6 Jan

Birdland is a very nice club with a really special vibe: it is convivial, cosy and classy altogether, and the musicians who play there are usually most special: their music never fails to astound me. Last night, 91-year-old saxophone and flute player Frank Wess peformed with guitar player Roni Ben -Hur, drummer Victor Lewis, bass player Santi Debriano and pianist George Cables. The club celebrated Mr. Wess’s 91st birthday and Tarik, the club’s manager, nicely brought a cake to Mr. Wess on stage.

Bass saxophone player Scott Robinson ( and his wife attended the show and Scott gave me Bronze Nemesis, his latest, wild album, with the following subtitle: “12 Fantastic Musical Adventures Inspired by the Amazing Worlds of Doc Savage!”

I was only able to catch the second half of last night’s 11pm set but stayed long enough to hear George Cables’, Roni Ben-Hur’s and Santi Debriano’s beautiful solos. Debriano quoted Carmen and the last tune the band played was Cedar Walton’s “Firm Roots.” I wish there had been an encore! When asking myself who, at 91 years old, can play like Frank Wess (who played the flute and the tenor – not alto – saxophone last night), I thought of Yusef Lateef, another giant.


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