“Jazz Gems” – Andrei Kitaev, piano/Stix Hooper, drums/ Al Criado, doublebass – Stix Hooper Enterprises 2010, 64:58 ****:
This session was recorded in Vienna in 2005 but for some reason only released in 2010. and we were just provided a copy. While the CD title is a bit pedestrian, every one of the tracks really is a gem, and pianist Kitaev is a gem himself, even though not receiving credit on the album name or front or back covers. Kitaev keeps things well controlled and balanced, in spite of Hooper sometimes hitting his drum set a bit too hard. It is said Kitaev was forced to play some tunes he hadn’t played in years, but you don’t hear any problems on the session. One of the tunes is one of his favorites, “A Child Is Born,” which I frankly don’t like but he does it to a T.  My favorite was Monk’s “Well You Needn’t.” In general, the tunes are all jazz trio standards and classics which have met the test of time. Sonics are fine.

1  Caravan
2 Footprints
3 Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You
4 Joy Spring
5 Lazy Bird
6 Lush Life
7 Midnight Sun
8 Nardis
9 Night In Tunisia
10 Ceora
11 Stolen Moments
12 Swahililand
13 Well You Needn’t
14 Child is Born

—John Henry