The first Steeplechase album I ever played on was a date lead by tenor saxophonist Jed Levy (called "Sleight Of Hand" on the Steeplechase label). The date featured the wise bassist Ron McClure and the precocious drummer Gerry Gibbs. Mr. Gibbs has been on the New York scene for decades; although he's always busy with various projects, he's fairly underrated in the lager scheme of the jazz world. Hopefully, his latest disc, "Thrasher Dream Trio" will change this notion. The "dream" refers to the all star line up of pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Ron Carter; clearly, it would difficult to dream of a better line-up than this! ( It was also recorded at the "dream " studio of Systems II in Brooklyn, which has always been one of my favorite places to record.While oftentimes all star projects can seem to be more about the name combination and sound a bit uninspired, "Thrasher Dream Trio" sounds like a BAND! It's a great sounding focused trio sound, and the playing is virtually flawless. There are a lot of snappy presentations of familiar jazz or pop material, but none of it sounds hackneyed; Monk's "Epistrophy" is finger poppin' good, " The Shadow Of Your Smile" is subtly arranged in a fresh key ( D major, or starting in B minor), and "Impressions" is more relaxed than usual, with some tasty hits. Some tunes like Freddie Hubbard's "Mr. Clean" and Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" will surprise you with a burning swing feel. I was quite impressed with the fastest version of Herbie Hancock's " The Eye of The Hurricane". I was also touched by Gibbs' original "The Woman On The T.V. Screen", a hauntingly beautiful ballad which Gibbs wrote for his wife Kyeshie. I'm not exactly sure if this album is available yet but here is some more info on the project. Anyway, keep an eye and and ear out for this special project.
Another project you might enjoy is by a pianist and vocalist who I met here in Portland; Kerry
Finally, I downloaded this third album a bit reluctantly; actually I'm mostly joking. It's just that when I listen to Geoffrey Keezer play piano, I love the music, but the pianist in me wants to at best quit piano, and at worst kill himself! I kid, but if you play piano and you've listened to Keezer on recording or especially live, you'll feel me. Indeed, hearing Keezer at
Speaking of Geoffrey Keezer, if you happen to pick up the August issue of Keyboard Magazine, there is an article by Keezer called "5 Things I've Learned About Solo Jazz Piano." It's the hippest article not only in the entire magazine, but one of the hippest short articles I've seen in Keyboard in a while. I'll have to nudge Jon Regen as to why it was not mentioned on the cover. If you have questions about solo piano, buy Keezer's CD and the August issue of Keyboard and you'll have lots of work to do.