I haven’t done anything that would require an apology or what my friend Richard would call an act of contrition, but this lovely ballad, I APOLOGIZE, has taken up residence in my head. You can find emotional versions by Bing, many by Billy Eckstine, and other singers on YouTube, but this instrumental version feels like the ideal ballad performance: quiet but completely intense.
This performance by Claude Hopkins, piano; Buddy Tate, tenor saxophone; Joe Thomas, trumpet; Wendell Marshall, string bass; J.C. Heard, drums was recorded in 1961. My microgroove copy of this session goes back to the very early Seventies, when Prestige, Riverside, and Verve lps were being sold at very low prices, and it remains a treasure. In the Seventies as well, I saw (and sometimes spoke to) Claude, Joe, and Buddy, so I feel connected to their work.
It is very much a showpiece for the two horns, with the rhythm section discreetly supporting (Claude’s tremolos behind Buddy are a wonderful touch). Buddy’s approach to the melody is like the embrace of someone in a fur coat, delightfully enveloping both the notes and the listener; Joe’s sotto voce comments are perfect counterpoint, affirming and responding. I am sorry that Prestige did not consider a whole album of ballads for this team (they had a “Moodsville” series, presumably meant as a soundtrack for quiet intimacies) but this is memorable to me. And, I hope, to you:
Simple and simply beautiful.
May your happiness increase!