Oliver Jones & Hank Jones, pianos – Pleased To Meet You – Justin Time Records JUST 236-2 *****:
(with Brandi Disterheft, doublebass; Jim Doxas, drums)
I may have already noted that I’m a nut on two-piano jazz, and this one especially caught my eye for a couple reasons: One of the keyboardists is Hank Jones – in my view one of the very best jazz pianists in the world today. The other thing became apparent when I pulled out the note booklet. It has a panoramic shot of the studio setup in Montreal for the recording, and the two pianos are some distance apart with separate miking on each one. Thus the separation of the two pianos is emphasized, which I like much better than the usual nesting of the two concert grands. I listened to the entire album on headphones, and that even more emphasizes the instruments’ separation.
Another distinction here is that Hank, playing on the right channel, has a Steinway grand and Oliver on the left channel is playing a Yamaha. No, the two Joneses are not related, but both have done duo concerts before – the last time at the 2008 Montreal Jazz Festival. They were both good friends of Canada’s late Oscar Peterson, and they choose to honor his memory by performing two of his tunes: Blues for Big Scotia and Cakewalk on this CD, as well as an original penned by Oliver Jones and titled “I Remember OP.” Another connection here is that the two Joneses recorded this album in Peterson’s home town of Montreal.
Three of the 11 tracks just feature the two pianos without the rhythm section, and two others are solos by Hank alone. The piano tone of both instruments is lovely and well-captured by the engineers. Hank speaks in the notes of “the sheer joy of making music,” and that certainly comes across on this great session.
TrackList: What Am I Here For?, Groove Merchant, Ripples, Makin’ Whoopee, I’ll Remember April, Star Eyes, Blues for Big Scotia, Cakewalk, Monk’s Mood, I Remember OP, Lonely Woman.
– John Henry