Even though Bobby Jaspar died in New York at 37 of a heart attack in February 1963, he remains one of the finest jazz woodwind players in Europe and the States. Jaspar played a confident and swinging tenor saxophone akin to Stan Getz, a gorgeously fluid clarinet and a warm flute. There are no bad Jaspar recordings. His improvisational skills were richly melodic and soulful, with a seemingly endless supply of ideas. Jaspar could do it all, yet his career was all too short-lived.
If you know zero about Jaspar and want an entry point, go with Clarinescapade, which was treated to a 24-bit remastering by Fresh Sound in 2007. The music sounds grandly revitalized and bright. On the album, Jaspar played tenor sax, clarinet, alto flute and flute over three sessions in New York in November 1956, assembling a quartet and quintet.
The first session, on November 12, featured Jaspar (ts, fl, cl alto-fl), Tommy Flanagan (p), Nabil "Knobby" Totah (b) and Elvin Jones (d). These tracks include How Deep Is the Ocean, Jaspar's Clarinescapade, Jaspar's Tutti Flutti, I Remember April and Spring Is Here.
The second session came two days later and included Jaspar (ts), Tommy Flanagan (p), Nabil "Knobby" Totah (b) and Elvin Jones (d). The songs recorded were I Remember You, J.J. Johnson's Wee Dot and I Won't Dance.
The third session featured Jaspar (ts, fl), Eddie Costa (p), Barry Galbraith (g), Milt Hinton (b) and Osie Johnson (d). The songs are Jaspar's In a Little Provincial Town, Manny Albam's They Lock Alike, Barry Galbraith's Barry's Tune and Belgian pianist Francis Coppieters' Minor Drop. Jaspar wrote the arrangements for all three sessions. [Photo above of Barry Galbraith]
The standouts on the album are Clarinescapade, with Jaspar playing a smooth and taut clarinet; Wee Dot, featuring Jaspar sailing along on a brash tenor sax and a nifty drum solo by Elvin Jones; and Barry's Tune, on which Jaspar's tenor jousts with Galbraith's guitar.
You'll also find this album at Spotify.
JazzWax clip: Here's Barry's Tune...