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Three cheers for Hip! Who? Ray! as Preston is Cookin'

THIS new release is Ray Preston's first CD, a surprising fact since he has been part of the Irish jazz scene for many years and has a staunch following. Veteran bass-player Frank Hess and two rising stars, Johnny Taylor and David Lyttle, provide him with ideal backing.

A virtuoso on harmonica, he never flaunts his technique but uses it almost casually to make the most of swinging numbers like Lou Donaldson's Cookin', Clifford Brown's Joy Spring and Hugh Buckley's When Wes Was. Slower tunes like The Midnight Sun Will Never Set and Nuages are played with tender feeling. At every tempo his sense of pace and phrasing is exactly right. Ray puts down his instrument to sing What's New and Fly Me To The Moon, and includes a brief vocal in Cute/Toots, a tribute to his hero Toots Thielemans. His singing is not in the same league as his harmonica-playing, but he has a pleasant, crooning voice as well as a knack for imitating Frank Sinatra's accent and inflections.

The Ray Preston Quartet will launch the CD at a concert on Friday next in the Kevin Barry Room, NCH, at 8.30pm.

Dig by Miles Davis (featuring Sonny Rollins)

Miles Davis (trumpet), Jackie McLean (alto sax), Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Walter Bishop (piano), Tommy Potter (bass), Art Blakey (drums). Recorded in 1951.

THIS is early Miles, recorded about two years after Birth of the Cool. It is more bop than cool, with the exception of Bluing and My Old Flame, both of which show signs of the style that was to mature in the mid-to-late Fifties.

Sonny Rollins, then aged 21, was nowhere near the robustly fluent tenor-player he eventually became, but Jackie McLean's Parkeresque alto enhances four of the tracks. An interesting album historically, but not essential except for Davis completists.

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