Jazz Piano Panorama: The Best Of Piano Jazz on Resonance – Resonance Records HCD-2041, 75:01 ****1/2:
(Featuring Dado Maroni; Donald Vega; Bill Evans; Marian Petrescu; Tommy Flanagan; The Three Sounds feat. Gene Harris; John Beasley; Gene Harris; Jaki Byard; Mike Garson; Tamir Hendelman)
Jazz Piano Panorama:The Best Of Piano Jazz On Resonance is as advertised, a dynamic assortment of piano virtuosity. Most of the material is represented by artists recording directly for Resonance. Italian pianist Dado Maroni gets things off to a rousing start on “Ghanian Village”. From the Live In Hollywood Resonance debut album (also the opening track), Maroni’s furious, percussive piano runs are scintillating. The relentless tempo is sustained by Marco Panascia on bass and Peter Erskine on drums. Maroni’s muscular piano style utilizes cascading flourishes and winds down at the finish. Another pianist who debut came on Resonance is Venezuelan Donald Vega. On “You Never Tell Me Anything!” (from Spiritual Nature), he is anchored by Christian McBride (double bass) and Lewis Nash (drums). Vega percolates with soulful feeling and vampy licks. His rapport with tempo and fellow musicians is stellar. Switching to a “lost” recording, Bill Evans (with trio) reinvents the torch song, “Come Rain Or Come Shine” into a toe-tapping groove fest. Recorded in 1969 (Evans In England), the pianists eases into the flow in a steady, relaxed manner. There are several trademark Evans licks that are reminiscent of his early 60’s live recordings. Back to modern Resonance history, Marian Petrescu (and quartet) percolate on Oscar Peterson’s “Cakewalk” from Thrivin’ – Live At Jazz Standard. Petrescu channels the unbridled passion of Peterson with up tempo right hand notation and gritty chords. Andreas Oberg is equally incandescent on guitar.
Resonance has managed to unearth vital unreleased jazz. Here there are a duo of solo performances from a 1982 concert at Keystone Corner by Tommy Flanagan and Jake Byard (The Magic Of 2). Flanagan (known as Ella Fitzgerald’s longtime accompanist) lends his cosmopolitan touch to the Ellington/Strayhorn title “Something To Live For” The piano style is sophisticated, but with artistic shadings that distill the optimistic eloquence. Flanagan maneuvers through the melody, but brings a personal, at times contemplative aura to the jazz technicality. Jaki Byard has chosen a cover of Stevie Wonder’s 1979 single “Send One You Love”) from The Secret Life Of Plants. Byard delves into the structure and lyricism of the song with an unusual combination of classical interludes, stride and avant-garde/bebop piano expression. Two live performances from Gene Harris are captured from different sets. “Girl Talk” (from Groovin Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1965-1968) is full of repeat motifs and possibly a bar from “Love is TheTender Trap”. This cool, breezy arrangement is soul jazz with emphatic licks. The music rolls over the listener with gentle tempos. “There Is No Greater Love” (Live In London) is high powered, post-bop jazz. without any restraint, Harris cuts loose on chords and runs with strength and clarity. it is a rocket ride that finally ends in a big “show-biz” almost Basie-like finish.
John Beastly gives a stirring performance on the title cut to his 2009 Resonance release, “Positootly!” He brings straight ahead jazz that meticulously delves into the song’s structures and variations. The multi-leveled jazz rendition is propelled by freewheeling piano with moments of delicacy and chord modulation. His forceful chords add to the momentum strength. On one of Resonance’s early releases, Mike Garson’s “Jenny’s Waltz” (Conversation With My Family) has emotional depth at its core with uplifting 3/4 signature accents. This duality lends a contemporary vibe to the track. The selection of the Bing Crosby pop ditty, “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” showcases Tamir Hendelman’s style elasticity. He shifts from punctuated vamps to jaunty swing with an assortment of bluesy riffs. All of this is framed by a sophisticated approach with gritty left hand. Marian Petrescu returns for a spirited finale. “A Little Jazz Exercise” is another homage to Oscar Peterson. In a rare solo, this brief take (3:08) explodes with accelerated stride feverishness and marked precision.
Jazz Piano Panorama: The Best Of Piano Jazz On Resonance is a jazz treasure!
You Never Tell Me Anything!
Come Rain Or Come Shine
Something To Live For
There Is No Greater Love
Send One Your Love
Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
A Little Jazz Exercise