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ALBUM REVIEW: "New York Connections" 

Mike Melito

"New York Connections"

Weebop Records

Drummer Mike Melito is on everyone's short list of the top jazz players on the Rochester scene. But on his sixth album as a leader, he decided on a change of pace and a change of location. "New York Connections" was recorded with a band made up of Melito's colleagues in the big apple: the great guitarist Peter Bernstein; Harry Connick Jr.'s saxophonist, Jerry Weldon; pianist Jeb Patton; and bassist Neal Miner. Not surprisingly, wonderful solos abound. Every cut on the album cooks as a result of the band's chemistry and Melito's flawless drumming.

Melito is not a composer, but after growing up in a jazz family (his father and brother are trumpeters, and his other brother is a NYC drummer) and playing for over three decades, he has a firm vision of the music he loves: hard bop jazz. Melito selects underexposed tunes, like Fred Lacey's "Theme for Ernie" and Hank Mobley's "Up, Over and Out," and arranges them beautifully. When he includes classics like "Wives and Lovers" and "If Ever I Would Leave You," he puts a new spin on them. Bandmates Bernstein and Miner contribute tunes that fit right in with the classics. If you're looking for an album that continues the best of a great tradition, "New York Connection" is the one.

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