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Don Rice returns to Albright-Knox with his ballads and tenor sax

Tenor sax ballad master Don Rice can practically consider himself an honorary Buffalonian. A native of Omaha, Neb., Rice has been playing on The Buffalo News’ Jazz at the Albright-Knox series for, literally, decades.

He always delivers. Rice has a whispery, silken sound perhaps inspired by Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and, reaching back even farther, Lester Young.

“Don Rice ‘recharges the soul’ at Albright Knox Summer Jazz Series,” ran The News’ headline in 2013. Reviewer Garaud MacTaggart wrote: “Early and mid-20th century standards, like ‘Days of Wine and Roses,’ ‘Tenderly,’ ‘Body and Soul’ and ‘Just My Foolish Heart,’ all benefitted from his gently swinging phrases.”

In 2011, Rice drew the largest crowd of the summer-long festival. I did the reviewing honors that time.

“We are talking a tenor sax style that is low and slow and, even in uptempo numbers, full of soul and nostalgia. There was never a dull moment in the two sets, as Rice took us through standard after standard, with a few bop numbers thrown in,” I wrote. “He is performing with the Bobby Jones Trio. If you were out of town and wandered into a club and heard this combo, you would feel lucky and come home bragging to your friends. They are that good.”

Please, Mr. Rice, don’t ever change. He is rejoining the Bobby Jones Trio July 24 on the steps of the gallery. Completing the trio are bassist Wayne Moose and drummer Danny Hull. The concert begins at 2 p.m. Admission, as always, is free.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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