Friday, July 25, 2008

Maybeck Recital Hall: Treasure Hunt - Part 1

Steven Cerra [C] Copyright protected; all rights reserved.

For some Jazz fans, solo piano is the ultimate conceit. Unbridled and unrestrained, to their ears it represents a kind of Jazz-gone-wild. Unchecked by the structure of having to play within a group, they view it as simply a vehicle for pianists to show off their techniques, or to just show-off. And unless the solo pianist is particularly adept at dynamics, tempo changes and repertoire selection, solo piano can develop a sameness about it that makes it deadly boring, to boot.

For others, solo piano represents the ultimate challenge: the entire theory of music in front of a pianist in black-and-white with no safety net to fall into. For these solo piano advocates, those pianists who play horn-like figures with the right-hand and simple thumb and forefinger intervals with the left [instead of actual chords] are viewed as being tantamount to one-handed frauds.

Can the pianist actually play the instrument or is the pianist actually playing at the instrument?

Ironically, at one time in the music’s history, solo piano was a preferred form of Jazz performance. As explained by Henry Martin in his essay Pianists of the 1920’s and 1930’s in Bill Kirchner [ed.], The Oxford Companion to Jazz [New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 163-176]:

In New York, the jazz pianist of the early 1920s was called a “tickler”‑as in “tickle the ivories.” Since Jazz was part of popular culture, the audience expected to hear the hit songs of the day, stylized and personalized by their favorite players. Often hired to provide merriment as a one‑man band, the tickler was a much‑honored figure of the era. He was wary of de­parting too often or too radically from the melody, since this could alienate listeners. As recordings were relatively rare and not especially lifelike, the piano was the principal source of inexpensive fun‑a self‑contained party package for living rooms, restaurants, bars, and brothels.
The ticklers exploited the orchestral potential of the piano with call‑and‑response patterns between registers and a left‑hand “rhythm section” consisting of bass notes alternating with midrange chords. This “striding” left hand lent its name to “stride piano,” the principal style of the 1920s."

In particular, beginning in the 1920s and continuing well into the 1930’s, solo piano recitals by James P. Johnson, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller and Teddy Wilson were a source of much delight and admiration for listeners when Jazz was still the popular music. Later in this period, the boogie-woogie piano stylings of Jimmy Yancey, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis and Joe Turner were all the rage.

Indeed, the first 78 rpm’s issued by Blue Note Records, which was to become the recording beacon for modern Jazz on the East Coast in the 1950s and 60s, would be by Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis. The 18 performances that were recorded on January 6, 1939 singly and in duet by Ammons and Lewis have been reissued as a CD entitled The First Day [CDP 7 98450 2] and are examples of solo blues and boogie-woogie piano at its best.

Perhaps the epitome of Jazz solo piano was reached in the playing of Art Tatum, or as Henry Martin phrases it – “the apotheosis of classic jazz piano” – whose dazzling command of the instrument was a constant source of wonder and amazement to the point that some thought that they were listening to more than one pianist at the same time!

And while Erroll Garner, Nat Cole, Lennie Tristano, George Shearing and Oscar Peterson continued the tradition of solo piano into the modern era, pianist Bud Powell’s use of the right hand to create horn-like phrasing as an adaptation of the bebop style of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie transformed many pianists into essentially one-handed players in an attempt to mimic Powell’s artistry.

What’s more, over the second half of the 20th century, solo Jazz piano became something of a lost art with fewer and fewer pianists performing in this style and still fewer listeners seeking it out.

So, in the face of what had become a mostly languishing form of the art, the Concord Jazz, Maybeck Recital Hall series stands out as somewhat of an anomaly.

For not only does it revive the solo Jazz piano form, it does so in grand fashion by offering the listener forty-two [42] opportunities to make up their own mind about their interest in this genre. And, in the forum that is the Maybeck Recital Hall, it does so under conditions that are acoustically and musically ideal.

Maybeck Recital Hall, also known as Maybeck Studio for Performing Arts, is located inside the Kennedy-Nixon House in Berkeley, California. It was built in 1914 by the distinguished architect Bernard Maybeck.

"The 50-seat hall, ideal for such ventures, was designed as a music performance space by Bernard Maybeck, one of the most influential and highly revered of Northern California architects. Maybeck, who died in 1957 at the age of 95, was a man renowned for his handcrafted wooden homes in what became known as "The Bay Area Style." An architect whose principles included building with natural materials, Maybeck constructed the hall of redwood, which allows for an authentic, live sound that neither flies aimlessly nor gets swallowed up, thus making for an optimum recording environment." - Zan Stewart, Vol. 35, George Cables

The hall seats only 60 or so people, and before assuming that it’s name reflects some form of political reconciliation between the major opposing parties, the hall was designed by Maybeck upon commission by the Nixon family, local arts patrons who wanted a live-in studio for their daughter Milda’s piano teacher, Mrs. Alma Kennedy. Hence the name – Kennedy-Nixon House.

The room is paneled, clear-heart redwood, which contributes to an unusually rich and warm, yet bright and clear acoustic quality. There are two grand pianos: a Yamaha S-400 and a Yamaha C-7.

In 1923, the hall was destroyed by fire, but was quickly rebuilt by Maybeck.

The house was purchased in 1987 by Jazz pianist Dick Whittington, who opened the hall for public recitals.

In 1996, the house was purchased by Gregory Moore. The recital hall is no longer open for public concerts, although it is used for private concerts that are attended by invitation only.

Between 1989 – 1995, Whittington and Concord records produced and recorded the previously mentioned 42 solo piano, Maybeck Recital Hall performances. Each featured a different Jazz pianist and Whittington made a concerted effort to include in these recital pianists whom he felt deserved wider public recognition. In addition, Concord also released CDs of 10 jazz duets that were performed at Maybeck during this same period.

At this point, 13 years later, some of the Maybeck Recital Hall, solo piano discs issued in the Concord series may require a bit of a treasure hunt to locate, but the editors of Jazzprofiles thought it might be in the interests of the more adventurous of its readers to at least make information about the complete series available through a listing, cover photo and brief annotation of each of the discs in the series.

These performances represent a all-inclusive overview of solo Jazz piano at the end of the 20th century, as well as, an excellent opportunity for the listener to make up their own mind about this form of the music as played in a more modern style.

One wonders if such an all-inclusive opportunity will exist in the 21st century or if the historical record is now closed for future solo piano recitals to be offered and recorded on this scale?

Volume 1 – JoAnne Brackeen
“A performance by JoAnne Brackeen, whether alone or leading a group, is an automatic assurance of authority, of energy, of adventurous originality. This has been clear ever since her career as a recording artist began. She has been making albums under her own name since 1975 in addition to notable contributions during her early stints with Art Blakey and Stan Getz. With the release of Live at Maybeck Recital Hall her ability to establish and sustain a high level of interest, unaccompanied, throughout a recording, is demonstrated with unprecedented eloquence.” ‑ Leonard Feather

Volume 2 – Dave McKenna [CCD-4410]
"Sometimes God smiles on piano players. The piano not only isn't out of tune, it's an elegant instrument. The venue isn't a noisy bar, and the acoustics are perfect. My guess is that rare as they are, such occasions make Dave McKenna nervous. "I'm a saloon‑cocktail player ‑ whatever you call it," he said in a recent interview.
Dream Dancing, the first tune he played, set the tone for the afternoon. McKenna appeared, looking distracted. He seated himself, with the usual air of surprise that we'd come to hear him, and the usual "don't mind me" smile. Then the saloon­ cocktail player‑whatever got down to work, spinning out a melodic line, supporting it with his signature rumbling bass. In his combination of power and delicacy, he makes you imagine a linebacker who's also a micro-surgeon.
Midway through, he leaned into the keyboard and began to swing. The audience boogied in their chairs. When you’re in McKenna’s capable hands, the world goes away and you can dream, forget your troubles and jus get happy.” – Cyra McFadden

Volume 3 – Dick Hyman [CCD-4415]

“To a greater degree than is the case with any other instrumentalist, most music enthusiasts consider themselves better able to appreciate. and judge, the performance of pianists ‑ regardless of what musical category is involved.
After all, for nearly 500 years European instrumental music has included some sort of keyboard instrument and for three of those centuries an instrument called a ..piano‑ has been accepted as the most complete of all instruments ‑ its keyboard the cry basis of musical composition. its players. more often than not, also composers.
When considering great pianists ‑ and Dick Hyman is a great pianist ‑ one should not qualify the praise by making it great jazz pianist. Hyman. like all our best instrumentalists. is a master of the piano ‑ skilled in playing, able to utilize both his astonishing physical abilities and remarkable musical mind to produce some of the grandest sounds and most distinctive interpretations to be heard in contemporary In I I sic.
Because he is a skilled composer, orchestrator and arranger in a number of musical categories. including jazz, Hyman's solo piano performances emerge as monuments to his astonishing virtuosity as a complete musician.
For more than 40 years Hyman has been an active participant on the American musical scene. as deeply involved in scores for television and film, as in recordings, jazz festivals, concert production, solo and collaborative recitals (on piano and organ) and the dozens of other areas which attract his musical curiosity.
Hyman's talents have long been known in the profession and by the jazz underground, but until the 1980s he seldom ventured out of the greater New York area as a solo performer. By the time he was hired into the Berkeley, California hills where the Maybeck Recital Hall is located, he had become immensely popular as a result of his appearances in San Francisco's "Jazz in the City"' series as wll as at the Sacramento Dixieland Jubilee.” – Philip Elwood

Volume 4 – Walter Norris [CCD-4425]
“It is ironic that a pianist as vividly innovative as Walter Norris can remain obscure in the United States, and that many who know his name remember it only because he was Ornette Coleman's first (and almost only) pianist, on a 1958 record date.
Perhaps he was in the wrong places at the wrong times: in Little Rock, Ark. (home of Pharoah Sanders), where he gigged as a teenaged sideman; in Las Vegas, where he had a trio in the '50s, or even Los Angeles, where his gigs with Frank Rosolino, Stan Getz and Herb Geller did not lead to national renown.
His New York years were a little more productive. After a long stint as music director of the Playboy Club he worked with the Thad Jones Mel Lewis band, with which he toured Europe and Japan. But since 1976 Walter Norris has been an expatriate, working in a Berlin radio band from 1977 and teaching improvisation at the Hochschule since 1984. These are not stepping stones to world acclaim.
Luckily, while he was in the Bay Area a few months ago visiting his daughter, plans were set up to record him in the unique setting of Maybeck Hall, which Norris admires both for its architecture and its very special Yamahas.
"This was a very moving experience for me, "he said in a recent call from Berlin. "I had some memorable times working in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1950s. And Maybeck Hall is like a work of art."
That Norris can claim gifts far outreaching his fame becomes immediately clear in this stunning collection, surely one of the most compelling
piano recordings of the new decade.” – Leonard Feather

Volume 5 – Stanley Cowell [CCD-4431]
Once, recognizing Tatum in his audience at a night club, Fats Waller introduced him, saying, "I play the piano, but God is in the house tonight." Working with funding he calls a "theology grant," in 1988 Cowell developed a program of 23 pieces from Tatum's repertoire, studying the Tatum style and incorporating its essential devices into his own versions.
Cowell's improvisation is now rich with the spirit and inspiration of Tatum, perhaps the only jazz artist universally worshiped by pianists of all persuasions. In this Maybeck recital, Cowell is full of that spirit. The devices are not displayed as ornaments, but are absorbed into Cowell's approach and attitude toward jazz improvisation, which have undergone a philosophical change.
When Cowell arrived on the highly charged New York jazz scene in the sixties, he was a competitive player in those tough, fast times with their heavy freight of racial and social frustration. The urban and social revolution and the unrest and riots that accompanied it had much to do with the outlooks of many musicians in the free jazz movement. Cowell was in the middle of a branch of that movement that included players like Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Sunny Murray, Rashied Ali and others consumed with the quest for justice. For them, the politics of the day superseded concerns with traditional, conventional values of music.
"A note was a bullet or a bomb, as far as I was concerned. I was angry," Cowell says. "But the ironic thing was that no black people ever came to our concerts; only white people. And they liked the music. So, I said, 'wait a minute, this is stupid; what are we trying to do?' I just felt that I was misdirecting my energies. 1, and eventually all of these players, went back to dealing with the tradition, the heritage of jazz and other music. We looked for more universal qualities ... beauty and contrast, nonpolitical aspects. Ultimately, music is your politics anyway, but you don't have to be one‑dimensional about it."
Beauty and contrast abound in the music at hand. And, to clearly stake out the pianistic territory from the start, Cowell gives us technique in the service of beauty and contrast.” – Doug Ramsey

Volume 6 – Hal Galper [CCD-4438]

“This concert at Maybeck Recital Hall took place at a pivotal moment in Hal Galper's life. It was the last week of July, 1990. After ten years, he had just left The Phil Woods Quintet. His first performance after that departure was this solo concert and recording.
"I was approaching it with a perfectionist attitude, like I had to have everything worked out. And I was getting more and more uptight about it. So I threw all my plans out the window! I went in with 20 or 25 songs that I had sort of done things on, and I winged it!. …
For somebody who's been in the rhythm section of one of the world's best bebop groups, this is a lot of adventurous piano. "I realized that nobody's really heard me play!" says Hal. "I've been accompanying guys for 30 to 35 years, but basically I've been watering myself down as a professional accompanist. So I decided to throw the professionalism out the window and to say what I want to say musically." – Becca Pulliam

Volume 7 – John Hicks [CCD-4442]
John Hicks had heard of Maybeck Recital Hall long before he made his debut in the intimate room in August, 1990, to record this, his first solo piano album. JoAnne Brackeen, whose Maybeck album launched this quickly expanding and unprecedented series of solo piano recordings, had raved about the place to Hicks. When he sat down to play, he felt right of home.
Maybeck isn't on the map of usual jazz hot spots, but on a narrow, winding residential street in the Berkeley hills, near the University of California campus. Inside, it doesn't resemble a jazz club either Designed, as it's name implies, as a recital hall for pianists (the classical variety) 80 years ago, it was used mostly for private affairs. Since Berkeley school teacher Dick Whittington and his wife Marilyn Ross bought it a few years ago, they have staged weekly concerts, mostly solo, occasionally classical, but more often with some of the finest improvisers in jazz. Because Maybeck holds only 60 listeners, musicians come not to make money so much as to have that rare opportunity to play what they want to, for an audience open to new sounds
The high‑ceilinged performance space is made almost entirely of natural wood, much of it hand­crafted by architect Bernard Maybeck's builders. That sense of human touch and care gives the room its ambience, one that leads musicians to play music that is at times spirited, at others spiritual. The recordings that have come out of Maybeck on Concord Jazz are proof that the muse of the improvising pianist has had direct contact with the artists who have performed there.
Unlike most of the recordings he has made under his own name (ones that
feature his compositions), for the Maybeck date, Hicks said, "I wanted to do some more standard compositions. Playing solo gives me a chance to extend my repertoire and play some songs I don't normally play in a group setting. By myself, I can take them in directions you just can't got to when there are other musicians involved.
"For Maybeck," Hicks said, "there were certain things I wanted to record, but really the recording aspect was incidental to the performance. I arrived with a list of songs I wanted to do. But once I started, I picked songs based on the feeling I got from the audience.” – Larry Kelp

Volume 8 – Gerald Wiggins [CCD-4450]
“Wig ... I love this album.
Wig and I have been friends since the early 40s. I've respected his talent and listened to him grow ever since. Of course, in the business, you aren't in close contact unless you live in New York (where you meet on the street more often). Out here in LA it is very spread out and sometimes hard to go see other musicians.
I've always loved Wig's playing for several reasons. First of all, he doesn't take himself too seriously. To do that is a big mistake ... I've learned from experience. He also enjoys playing good songs. He has fun when he's playing. Music is really about having fun. If not, why do it? You study hard, then have fun using what you've learned. And ideally, you make money doing what you love to do.
Wig has another great quality, natural relaxation. Art Tatum had it, and it shows in Gerald. (They were good friends.) That is one of the most important things in playing. It has its effect on people and they enjoy it without realizing why. That goes for both the audience and musicians alike and is one of the reasons everyone enjoys playing with Wig.
Wig is respected because he has all these qualities plus a beautiful touch and he never overplays.” – Jimmy Rowles

Volume 9 – Marian McPartland [CCD-4460]
“The night before she was scheduled to play the ninth jazz piano concert recorded for the "Live At Maybeck Hall" series, Marian McPartland sat down at the Baldwin in her hotel room, not far from the concert hall on a hill, and toyed with a few tunes. She had a long list ranging from standards written in the 1920s and 1930s to an offbeat, rollicking blues by Ornette Coleman and also a whirling improvisation of her own ‑ "the kind of modernistic things I like," she says of the latter songs. She headed toward the concert hall in high spirits, because she knew she would have a good audience in a wonderful, small hall with a nice piano. But she still hadn't decided what to play. "Well, play this thing," she told herself. "It's all going to work out."
Miss McPartland brought her characteristic strength and classiness to each tune. To her fastidious technique, forceful sound and emotional depth, add her ‘au courant’ imagination and far‑ranging intellectual curiosity about all musical material, and you will arrive at some conclusions about why her concert, which she programmed intuitively on the spot for her audience, turned out to be a standard – a vision – for great jazz piano.” – Leslie Gourse

Volume 10 – Kenny Barron [CCD-4466]

“Kenny Barron has been playing piano out there for two ­thirds of his life. This son of Philadelphia began work barely out of high school, partly through his late brother Bill’s solicitude. Kenny played with homeboy Jimmy Heath and Dizzy Gillespie in his teens, Yusef Lateef and Ron Carter in his thirties, sax‑man Bill often. In recent years he’s co-­founded the Monk‑band Sphere and duetted prettily with romantic soul‑mate Stan Getz.
Nevertheless, opportunities to attack the keyboard all alone are (blessedly?) rare‑ even gigs at Bradley’s have room for a bass player! Flying solo challenges a pianist. "It’s difficult for me," admits Barron: ‑ "this is only my third solo album." Barron approached this recital as a chance to expatiate on personal history; he plays jazz etudes, pieces which focus on specific aspects of the music. Some glance back to acknowledged influences (Art Tatum, T. Monk, and Bud Powell), some explore his present trends. The excursion exposes Barron’s deep roots in bebop and flourishing Hispanic traces, and establishes a tenuous balance between relaxation and tension.” – Fred Bouchard

Volume 11 – Roger Kellaway [CCD-4470]
“Roger Kellaway and I have been writing songs together ‑ his music, my lyrics ‑ since 1974. I've known him since 1962, when he played piano on the first recording of one of my songs.
When you write with someone, you get to know how he thinks. Roger and I influenced each other profoundly, attaining a rapport that at times seems telepathic.
Contrary to mythology, most jazz musicians have always been interested in 'classical" music, adapting from it whatever they could use. This is especially so of the pianists, almost all of whom had solid schooling in the European repertoire. But Kellaway has gone beyond his predecessors.
He is interested in everything from Renaissance music to the most uncompromising contemporary ‘serious’ composition, and all these influences have been absorbed into his work. While a few other jazz pianists have experimented with bi-tonality, and even non-tonality, none has done it with the flair Roger has. Roger respects the tonal system as a valid language that should not be abandoned, and recognizes that the audience is conditioned to it, comfortable in it. When he ventures into bitonality (and he began doing so when he was a student at the New England Conservatory, thirty‑odd years ago), he does so with an awareness that he is making the listener "stretch." And he seems to know almost uncannily how long to keep it up before taking the music, and the listener, back to more secure terrain. Roger, furthermore, has a remarkable rhythmic sense. He can play the most complicated and seemingly even contradictory figures between the left and right hands of anyone I know.
The independence of his hands is marvelous. He is himself rather puzzled by it. All this makes for an adventurous quality. It is like watching a great and daring skier.
There are two other important qualities I should mention: a whimsical sense of humor and a marvelously rhapsodic lyrical instinct, both of which inform his playing, as well as his writing. His ballads are exquisitely beautiful.” - Gene Lees

Volume 12 – Barry Harris [CCD-4476]

“When Barry Harris' name is mentioned, other pianists usually react with awe. This is esteem which has been earned over a lifetime of making exquisite music; since he was the house pianist at Detroit's Blue Bird Club nearly 40 years, Harris has commanded the stature and respect due the consummate artist.
He has granted a NEA Jazz Masters Award in 1989, and his eclectic talents and versatility are probably best illustrated by the fact that he has also composed music for strings ….
Often viewed as the quintessential bebop pianist, his playing does maintain the tradition of Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. However, his consistency, grace, energy, and style transcend the bop idiom. Barry Harris' approach is polished and insightful, and there is a humanity and warmth in his music that truly touches the heart, even when he's playing at a breakneck tempo.
He is also a highly respected educator, who travels around the world performing and giving intensive workshops (he was in Spain, on his way to Holland at the time these notes were written). Students flock to Harris wherever he is because of his talent and reputation and his singular ability to communicate. He enjoys the teaching process, and conveys that spirit and his love of music directly to his students.
That same spirit is clearly evident in his playing, and never more so than at this concert at the Maybeck Recital Hall. His first recording on the Concord Jazz label, it shows the full spectrum of his talents, highlighting the softer, introspective side of his art with numerous ballad interpretations as well as displaying the electrifying speed with which he can construct a magnificent solo (no one can carry the furious pace of a bebop chase with more aplomb).” – Andrew Sussman

Volume 13 – Steve Kuhn [CCD-4484]
Kuhn's last solo piano album was the 1976 studio recording, "Ecstasy." Live at Maybeck Recital Hall is his real coming out as a solo pianist, a perfect showcase in a warm and intimate room, with a packed house and the complete freedom to play whatever he felt.
"At Maybeck, I had a list of 25 or so songs, but I didn't know what I'd play until I sat down and started." Even then, while the tune itself may be fixed as to basic melodic and harmonic structure, Kuhn reinterprets the piece depending on the spirit of the setting and moment. "Each time I've performed these tunes, I've played them differently. And when I play alone, they can change drastically."
The one constant in the Maybeck series recordings is owner Dick Whittington's introduction of the pianist. From there the artist takes over, often revealing facets and depths of inspiration unheard of in previous group recordings. That's the beauty of this series, taking both well‑known and less familiar pianists and giving them free rein to create.
Solar is composed by Miles Davis. "I heard it in 1954 on Miles'recording with Kenny Clarke and Horace Silver. It was structurally unusual at the time. A 12‑bar form, but it's not a blues. Rather than a harmonic resolution on the final bar, it goes right into the next chorus... a sort of circular form. And, it's got a dark, somber mood to it, I do it with the trio; it's a good vehicle for improvisation." It's also a good example of how Kuhn reworks a tune to fit his own style. He begins with a one‑hand, single‑line introduction, and slowly works into the actual tune, the spareness adding an austere, lonely feel. Then he picks up to almost swing tempo for the midsection, eventually taking off with a fast‑walking left‑handed bass line, while the right hand romps all over the harmonic structure, then shifts down for a more thoughtful conclusion. Although it's easier to discuss how he leaps over preconceived notions of song forms, his uniqueness stems from his ability to draw the listener into a specific feeling or mood, gradually running the emotional gamut. It's the overall experience, not just the beauty of the playing, that makes Kuhn's performance memorable.” – Larry Kelp

Volume 14 – Alan Broadbent [CCD-4488]
Alan is a superbly lyrical talent, whether in his incarnations as arranger, composer or player. I am very drawn to such artists. They speak to me in voices I crave to hear. They are about gentleness and love and compassion. We need them in a world groaning under the burden of ugly.
"I feel," Alan said, "that jazz is first of all the art of rhythm. I might have a particular musical personality that comes through, but for me it has to emanate from a sense of an inner pulse. Everything I play is improvised, so as long as my melodic line is generated by this pulse, my left hand plays an accompanying role that relies on intuition and experience as the music demands. The apex of this feeling for me is in the improvisations of Charlie Parker. Regardless of influences, he is my abiding inspiration, and it is to him I owe everything."
The piano occupies a peculiar position in jazz and for that matter music in general. It is inherently a solo instrument. It can do it all; it doesn't need companions. In early jazz, when it came time for the piano solo, everybody else just stopped playing. Later Earl Hines realized that part of what the instrument can do has to be omitted if it is to be assimilated into the ensemble. You let the bass player carry the bass lines and let the drummer propel the music. Hines had great technique, but deliberately minimized it when playing with a rhythm section. So did Count Basie, Teddy Wilson, Mel Powell, and all the other good ones. When bebop arose, the common criticism was that the new pianists had "no left hand." So to prove this wrong, Bud Powell one night in Birdland played a whole set with only his left hand.
Alan is, at a technical level, an extraordinary pianist. He is a marvelous trio pianist, but like all pianists, he necessarily omits in a group setting part of what he can do. This solo album permits him to explore his own pianism in a way that his trio albums have not. And to do so in perfect conditions.” – Gene Lees be continued

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