Performers: O’Neal, piano/vocals; Zack Pride, bass; Kermit Walker, drums
Studio: BoJazz Productions
Video: 4:3 full screen color
Audio: DD 2.0
Length: 100 min.
Pianist O’Neal played the part of Art Tatum in the Ray Charles feature “Ray.” Tatum is one of the people O’Neal talks about in the very short comments before many of the tracks of this video. The interview segments break up the concert and add interest, as well as commenting on the selection to come next.
O’Neal is a likable jazz pianist, lauded by such as Mulgrew Miller in one of the commentaries. His general style is a bit loose and the video coverage is very loose, with zooming in on exciting keyboard action that seems to be a bit slow on the take. Let’s just say the camera work is not exactly expert. The image is in fairly good resolution, is framed as a 16:9 ratio, but with letterboxing around it on all sides like a big black frame. Switching to 4:3 only squashes the image sideways, so that can’t be used. And neither can expanding to full 16:9, which stretches too far, at least on my Samsung display. I’m sensitive to the extreme treble end of U.S. Steinways as sounding too harsh and tinny, but this Steinway is much worse because those notes are also a bit out of tune.
A variety of tunes demonstrate Johnny O’Neal’s keyboard chops, including some of his originals such as Intellectual Grease. Several tunes are as long as nine minutes, allowing for plenty of highly developed improvisation. I think my favorite was the unaccompanied solo on Tight.
TrackList: Just You Just Me, Next Spring, Dreamy, Tight, Saving All My Love for You, Intellectual Grease, Overjoyed, I Concentrate on You, Honeysuckle Rose, Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, That’s All.
– John Henry