Jazz CD Reviews

Larry Willis, piano – This Time The Dream’s On Me – HighNote

A thoughtful and beautifully engineered album.

Published on May 15, 2012

Larry Willis, piano – This Time The Dream’s On Me – HighNote

Larry Willis, piano – This Time The Dream’s On Me – HighNote Records HCD7238 [5/22/12], 61:38 ****:

It has been the case that sometimes various original jazz musicians have been overlooked by both the general public and their peer group. Larry Willis might be considered to fall into that category despite being on the jazz scene since the 1960s and having developed a singular reputation as a session musician. With this latest release This Time the Dreams On Me, Willis could re-energize this interest as he has delivered a thoughtful and beautifully engineered album.

Recorded in Sacile Italy in November 2011 at the Fazioli Concert Hall on a Fazioli concert grand piano, Willis has put together a sparking effort of ten compositions derived from jazz and popular standards, as well as three  Willis originals. Leading off with the title track “This Time the Dream’s On Me” Willis demonstrates that he has a stylish command of the keyboard. “Sanctuary”, “Blues for Marco” and “Silly Blues” are the three original Willis compositions. On the first tune, there is a cerebral sense of serenity coupled with feeling of water flowing down a stream. As for the blues pieces, both are straight forward  twelve bar compositions, but display that Willis is really at home in this format, as he presents some earthy lines in both tunes.

Now while Willis may not have neither the dazzling technique of an Oscar Peterson, nor the introspective lyricism of a Bill Evans, he evokes a cerebral confidence as he tackles the complexity of a couple of Ellington associated delights namely the Duke’s own “ A Single Petal of a Rose” and the Billy Strayhorn classic “Lotus Blossom”. Two other delectable gems grace the album. Firstly  the J. Moross/J. Latouche  bittersweet “ Lazy Afternoon” and the Kurt Weill story “My Ship”. In each case Willis shows off his passionate renderings and creativeness of these companion pieces, which also showcase the wonderful bold tone of the Fazioli concert grand.

Tackling a solo piano album is no small feat. The performer is left naked to the listening audience where every small fault may be magnified and there is no place to hide. Larry Willis need not fear any such repercussions as he has delivered a virtuoso performance.

TrackList: This Time the Dream’s On Me; Sanctuary; True Love; Lazy Afternoon; A Single Petal of a Rose; Blues for Marco; It Could Happen to You; Lotus Blossom; Silly Blues; My Ship

—Pierre Giroux

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