Caruma

OUT THERE – RICARDO PINHEIRO

Ricardo Pinheiro is an original interpreter of standards, both in conception and sound. Fusion is also part of his palette and the way that the guitarist from Lisbon, Portugal transformed the Disney tune When You Wish Upon A Star into a psychedelic drone on Triplicity was something else. But Caruma is one step beyond, a meditative record of solo guitar and the voices of Theo Bleckmann and Mônica Salmaso. Caruma was released on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music in November, 2020.

Close in spirit to the ECM label but a singular effort, Pinheiro Pinheiro explains that “Caruma is Portuguese for pine needle. The album springs from the inspiration of living in the countryside, in the middle of the Sintra woods. All the songs are related to atmospheric, photographic and emotional substance drawn from connections with nature.”

Elegance, restraint and stillness abound. Angelic voices mingle with the oblique melodies and overdubbed soundscapes by Pinheiro, like four legs entwined beneath silken sheets. Bleckmann subtly follows and builds on the lines of Pinheiro, Salmaso prefers mellow recitation of poetry. In between the electric guitar-driven songs, the acoustic Caruma stands out as a melancholic folk tune. The ambient climax of Resina evokes images of moorland shrouded in fog, bats in dark caves, where perhaps also dwell hobgoblins…

Mar Picardo introduces the element of fire. Rhythmic and improv-wise it has the tinge of King Crimson. Surprise tune of a surprising album.

Ricardo Pinheiro

Go to the website of Ricardo Pinheiro here.

Nick Hempton Band at GB’s Juke Joint

CONCERT REVIEW – NICK HEMPTON BAND

Live from GB’s Juke Joint in New York City, lockdown-audience of camera men and engineer, comes saxophonist Nick Hempton and his band featuring guitarist Peter Bernstein, organist Kyle Koehler and drummer Fukushi Tainaka. Having a ball. Nick Hempton, typically sharp-dressed jazz cat out there to entertain folks with sophisticated and accessible hard bop, presents tunes from both his latest release Night Owl and forthcoming album, nameless to date.

Hempton puts myriad edgy dots on his fluent tenor sentences, embellishing his husky sound with mischievous smears and slurs here, witty halve valve shenanigans there (wit is reflected as well through his stage manner, notably the introduction of the masked band: “.. the very handsome Kyle Koehler – Please control yourself, people!”) Hempton’s soulful tenor ignites cooker Back On The Dole, the lightly groovin’ Latin-tinged The Cove Crawl and the blues-based Night Owl (shuffle) and Tenth Street Turnaround (fat bounce), the latter highlighting the agile Koehler, who finds his most intense and crunchy groove of the evening.

The band hits its tightest pocket on Short Shrift, crisp, up-tempo cooker featuring a nifty and archetypical stop-time device. Short Shrift and Ellington’s ballad It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream feature Hempton on alto sax, equally adept as on tenor, simultaneously lyrical and meaty and with hip inflections of the blues especially on It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream. The ballad reading by ace guitarist Peter Bernstein, enthusiastic and in fine form throughout, is especially touching and reveals a passion for one of his great forebears, Grant Green.

In his own way Hempton extends the uplifting vibe of giant fellows like Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Stanley Turrentine, their mixture of heat and excellence. Timeless real jazz, hopefully to be enjoyed again in a live audience setting as soon as possible.

Nick Hempton Band

Nick Hempton (tenor and alto saxophone)
Peter Bernstein (guitar)
Kyle Koehler (organ)
Fukushi Tainaka (drums)

Live stream recorded on December 28 at GB’s Juke Joint, New York City.

Go to Nick Hempton’s website here.

Find the GB’s Juke Joint show on demand here

Buddy Tate - Tate-A-Tate

Buddy Tate Tate-A-Tate (Prestige/Swingville 1960)

Nobuddy, well at least few from the swing era, nurtured such a long career as tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate. Tate-A-Tate, smokin’ cooperation with young lions and Clark Terry, is one of his finest efforts.

Buddy Tate - Tate-A-Tate

Personnel

Buddy Tate (tenor saxophone), Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn A1), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Larry Gales (bass), Art Taylor (drums)

Recorded

on October 18, 1960 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as SVLP 2014 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Groundhog
Tate-A-Tate
Snatchin’ It Back
Side B
All Too Soon
Take The A-Train
#20 Ladbroke Square


Listening to Buddy Tate feels like watching a movie starring John Wayne. Wayne’s gruff, spitting, punch-you-in-the-gut cowboy characters hold no bars, they are a hybrid of horse sense gumption and primitive emotions shimmering under the surface, likely to explode any minute. His presence on the screen is lethal. Yet there’s something of the likeable teddy bear uncle in him as well. One of Wayne’s finest movies is True Grit and true grit – Wayne’s left lung was removed in 1964 but he managed to complete more than 175 movies in a career that spanned more than 50 years before succumbing to cancer in 1979 – was his middle name.

It is terminology well suited for Buddy Tate, perhaps not such a heavy smoker in a literal sense, but definitely figuratively speaking. And like Wayne, Tate enjoyed a long career. During his life most of the major innovations in jazz history had been developed. Born in Sherman, Texas, Tate played in the territory bands in the Southwest in the late 20s. He was the tenor saxophonist in the Count Basie band from 1939 to 1948, an impressive ten-year stint in the hardest swinging big band in the world, which partly coincided with the tenure of Lester Young. Tate was hired by Basie after the sudden death of Hershel Evans, one of Tate’s major influences alongside the father of jazz tenor, Coleman Hawkins. The following decades, Tate recorded prolifically with, among others, Buck Clayton and Illinois Jacquet. And who doesn’t fondly remember the exciting Very Saxy album with Coleman Hawkins, Arnett Cobb and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis? Tate passed away in 2001.

Tate is a real blues man and a “tough tenor” as they say, an accessible player that blows honest stuff that comes deep from the gut, marked by smears and elongated mischievous utterings. The kind of player that devours a riff. He stands for entertaining stories and an architecture that is made up of sure-shot entrances, well-structured middle parts and sustained excitement to the end. In a sense, swing-based musicians like Tate are precursors to the soul jazz practitioners, playing music of the people for the people.

So by 1960, the year of his Tate-A-Tate record, Tate was already a veteran. Tate was part of a select club of swing players whose shop rarely closed down, not even during summer holidays. He had already enjoyed a 10-year residency at the Celebrity Club in Harlem, NYC and would continue to perform there until 1974. He also made a couple of solid records with a mixture of old pals and the new breed on Prestige, instigated cleverly by label boss Bob Weinstock and A&R man Esmond Edwards, who realized that jazz styles are by no means totally opposite entities but just different enough to put an edge to the results. The top-notch Tate’s Date with bop pianist Sadik Hakim preceded Tate-A-Tate, which featured trumpeter Clark Terry, his former colleague from the Basie band – Terry went with Ellington in the mid-40s – and the modernists Tommy Flanagan, Larry Gales and Art Taylor.

Tate-A-Tate – pun intended, don’t you love that good-old jazz word play? – is the kind of simultaneously relaxed and driving record that makes you all warm inside, as if cubicles of roasted marshmallows have just taken a rest at the bottom of your belly. It’s dedicated to fast, medium and slow-tempo blues. Tate and Terry do thorough workouts on two pieces from the Ellington book – swinging madly and gaily on (Billy Strayhorn’s) Take The A-Train. Tate reminds us of his delicious balladry on All Too Soon, all glowing coal on the BBQ and aromatic whiskey flavor.

It’s the little details of this spontaneous recording that reveal the greatness of old-school masters like Buddy Tate and Clark Terry. Tate’s sensuous vibrato and thunderous low-register honk put the dot on his perfectly developed sentences of the slow-medium blues tune #20 Ladbroke Square – a Tate composition. Terry’s wondrous out-of-time entrance of the frivolous blues line, Snatchin’ It Back, kick starts the kind of dynamic, ebullient solo the trumpeter had a patent on during his long and brilliant career – unbelievably, Terry played both trumpet and flugelhorn during the course of A-Train and the slow blues Groundhog, one in the left hand, other in the right hand. No use being a master if you don’t once in a while deliver the goods grandiosely, right.

Terry’s Tate-A-Tate builds on the pun of the title, a “jumpin’ blues” with solid breaks and lovely, interweaving tenor sax and trumpet lines. It’s a high-level conversation of smoky Tate and extravert Terry, underscored by rollicking rolls from Art Taylor, omnipresent drummer in the jazz scene of the late 50s and early 60s. The balanced but booming responses of Tate and Terry not only to pianist Tommy Flanagan’s elegant stories and sensible accompaniment but also to Taylor’s cracks from the hip constitute some of the biggest enjoyments of the thoroughly entertaining and sophisticated Tate-A-Tate session.

Listen below. Spotify wrongly credited the record to Tate & Claude Hopkins. Tate-A-Tate starts at number 8.

Reflections Of The Eternal Line

OUT THERE – FLORIAN ARBENZ & GREG OSBY

Swiss drummer Florian Arbenz cooperated with Kirk Lightsey, Bennie Maupin, Dave Liebman, Bruno Rousselet, among others. Rooted in classical percussion and fascinated by world rhythm, Arbenz is part of VEIN Trio and Convergence, the latter a band that grew out of interest in Cuban, Brazilian and West-African rhythm and was founded twenty-years ago by saxophonist Greg Osby.

Osby and Arbenz enjoy a special rapport and have cooperated for more than two decades. (Upon visiting New York and seeing performances of Osby in the early ‘90s, Arbenz is stated as saying, “From that moment on I wanted to play ‘Osby ‘s sort of music’”) However, they never found the time to record until this year. The result is Reflections Of The Eternal Line, bringing to life the art work of Stephen Spicher, who contributed the enticing visual art of the album and moreover opened up his work shop as studio.

At the core of the styles of Arbenz and Osby, one on a variety of percussion beside the kit as kalimba and gong, the other on alto and soprano sax, is a clever, continuing suggestion of harmonic texture. Suggestion, melodiousness and mystique pervade obliquely groove-oriented passages but most of all spheric pieces as Truth, Chant and The Passion Of Light, which benefit from a sense of stillness and introversion. Please Stand By features Osby as a modern-day successor to Yusef Lateef.

Challenging duo music seems to be a resurgent phenomenon. You could arrange an interesting evening schedule with albums such as Han Bennink/Joris Roelofs’ Icarus, Marcel Serierse/Tim Langedijk’s Telegrams and Florian Arbenz/Greg Osby’s Reflections Of The Eternal Line. Good company.

Dutch saxophonist Tineke Postma (who co-incidentally toured with Osby pré-Corona and performed with VEIN including Osby) is the European partner of the Arbenz duo project. Keep up to date on the website of Florian Arbenz here.

Find Convergence here.

Find Reflections Of The Eternal Line here.

Photography: Karin van Gilst

The Night Trippers

Trumpeter Ellister van der Molen finally fulfilled her dream of visiting the prominent cradle of jazz, New Orleans. “Being in the jazz business may equate with blood, sweat and tears but it remains a privilege to be a musician, travel some place and fit right in. Especially in New Orleans.”

As the controversial country star-turned-hilarious-mystery-writer Kinky Friedman said about the dead New Yorker: “He’s not really dead, he’s just currently working on another project.” A similar thing could be said about the New Orleanian. His funeral may seem your trial but the next thing you know he’s dancing on the ceiling of his casket.

New Orleans is rhythm, movement, jubilation. In New Orleans, they don’t play a certain genre, they make music. The melting pot of New Orleans has fascinated myriad musicians and music lovers, not least Dutch trumpeter Ellister van der Molen. Last year, Van der Molen and her long-time jazz buddy, pianist and organist Bob Wijnen, spent an exciting week in The Big Easy. NOLA, sophomore effort of their band RED, which also features tenor saxophonist Gideon Tazelaar and drummer Wouter Kühne, was presented on November 28. NOLA comes as a stylish EP-sized book of drawings by Quirine Reijman and includes a hi-res download of the album that was recorded in front of a small live audience at Muziekomroep in Hilversum by Sound Liasion with one mike, which gives it an incredibly transparant and lively analog vibe. The process brings to mind the pioneering “live at the studio club” recordings of Cannonball Adderley. NOLA is an enchanting evocation of New Orleans music culture. Read the review here.

The Hague is the appropriate meeting point for Van der Molen. More specifically, her practice space in the MOOOF building, where she is at ease amidst an off-white grand piano, keyboard and drum kit and original sketches of NOLA’s artwork. And lest we forget, her trumpet and flugelhorn. Too bad the building is turned over to project developers, who will make it into an apartment block of a brand-new yuppie quarter and see to it that every artist has left the premises at the end of this already troublesome year. Van der Molen was born in The Hague and auditioned at the talent faculty of the Conservatory at age 10, playing Moanin’ in duet with her father. Van der Molen chuckles: “I passed on one condition: that I promised not to play jazz anymore!”

She made her mark as a young, prizewinning talent of classical music but after a frustrating period of embouchure problems returned to her first love of jazz under the wings of Hague staples as Simon Rigter and Eric Ineke. She’s a big fan of legends as Clifford Brown, Miles Davis and her mentor Ack van Rooyen. The residential city’s long-standing reputation as (Hard) Bop City #1 has not been lost on Van der Molen. “Evidently, the cliché of The Hague as the mainstream jazz epicenter is the truth. But we shouldn’t forget that it harbors a lot of artists that perform in other styles as well, such as Wolfert Brederode, who is an ECM recording artist. By the way, recently I was featured on The Hague Songbook Exchange on the Challenge label, which linked jazz and electronic artists from The Hague, having them play each other’s compositions. It finds me dangerously close to free form.”

(Clockwise from l. to r: RED: Ellister van der Molen, Gideon Tazelaar, Wouter Kühne and Bob Wijnen; NOLA – Sound Liaison 2020; Ahooo! – RED 2018)

She speaks warmly of life in her hometown. The subject of New Orleans puts a similar twinkle in her eyes. “I had a couple of new projects on my mind; Latin boogaloo and the culture of New Orleans, which I had never been to before. As it happens, the audiophile label Sound Liaison gave me a call, asking if I had any plans, which kind of won me over. I always wanted to go to New Orleans because of its jazz history and its major jazz legends. Teaming up with Bob was perfect. To be honest, I hesitated about traveling down there as a woman on my own. Bob is half-blind, thus would most likely neither gamble on going single. We’ve known each other for so long and are like twins.”

Van der Molen and Wijnen were quick off the mark. “There’s this weekly magazine, Off Beat, which announces every gig in town. We were in New Orleans in November 2019. There’s live music 24/7, mostly concentrated in two or three streets, predominantly Frenchman Street. We saw drummer Herlin Riley at Snug Harbor. We sat in with Delfeayo Marsalis and his big band. And we played with the legendary local hero, drummer Johnny Vidacovich at the Maple Leaf. We went to jam sessions. In New Orleans, it’s rude to refuse to sit in. They’ll say: ‘You play trumpet? Alright, play!’ Of course, there’s the second line of the brass bands, which usually are not announced. You find yourself on a street where everybody is movin’ and groovin’ and dancin’. It starts pleasantly but after a while things tend to turn shady, with joints and booze and such, which usually is the moment to grab a cab to a better neighborhood. Evidently, there’s still a lot of poverty.”

Hurricane Katrina was not only a human disaster but also a blow to cultural life for the simple fact that many musicians were evacuated. But the musical pulse, if anything a message of resilience and hope in the black community, never completely faltered and post-Katrina gradually regained steam. “New Orleans music remains a strange and exhilarating brew. You have brass bands, traditional NO music, dance music, blues, funk, jazz. I have the impression that there’s a lot of overlap. Musicians do not stick to one genre but play in different bands. That’s probably because they have affinity with the tradition, otherwise they would not have been in New Orleans. Without giving a moral judgment, this is opposite to the suit-tie-handclap-tradition and pigeonholes of Europe and New York. In New Orleans everyone mingles. It is a very lively scene.”

Clockwise from l. to r: It Ain’t My Fault; Just A Closer Walk With Thee; Ahooo!)

Van der Molen, a levelheaded woman who sells a minimum of poker-faced funny asides for maximum effect, a balanced and expressive trumpeter and flugelhorn player who emotes with warmth and the profound sound of apricot, peach, tangerine, thoughtfully reflects on NOLA’s list of songs that she picked and arranged in cooperation with Wijnen. “No New Orleans album would be complete without Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, The Meters. We wanted to alternate between straightforward interpretations and more transformative stuff. For me, playing along the structure of the fanfare, this good old-fashioned route of theme, middle-section, modulation, theme and coda paradoxically was very liberating. On the other hand, we re-imagined traditionals like Just A Closer Walk With Me. Our altered chords move along that song’s unique ascending bass line. We were worried if it might be too far-fetched. It turned out alright? Thanks. Then there’s Blues My Naughtie Sweetie Gives To Me, with the literal chord sequence but a change of rhythm. We were not familiar with It Ain’t My Fault. Everybody was playing it, night after night. Apparently, this tune of drummer Smokey Johnson, one of the legendary local heroes, is a Mardi Gras hit. This kind of summed up the trip for me.”

“You’ll notice, at the end of the booklet, there’s a drawing of a cab driver. That is a reflection of my original composition Ahooo! – which is sort of my own way of saying ‘see you later!’ – and our homebound trip to the airport. We were just chatting with the taxi driver and asked if he played music as well. ‘Yeah’, he said, ‘I rap.’ So we said, ‘Won’t you please let us hear something?!’ Off he went into a supple free style flow on a beat from his deck. I really love the image Quirine made from our personal photo album. The concept of the rear-view mirror especially. It does not only reflect the end of the trip but is a metaphor for our band RED as well. We started this thing with Ahooo! three years ago. It has been a great journey but I feel that nowadays we play better than ever. The juices flow, we’re comfortable with one another. It’s a great feeling.”

Ellister van der Molen

The Hague-based Ellister van der Molen is one of the country’s outstanding trumpet and flugelhorn players. She plays in a variety of settings, from soul-jazz outfit RED to her modern jazz groups of Ellister van der Molen Trio/Quartet/Quintet to the Latin/West African-tinged Modji. She is trumpeter in the Jazz Orchestra Of The Concertgebouw, Glenn Miller Orchestra and Dublin Jazz Orchestra. Van der Molen played with Rein de Graaff, Eric Ineke, Ack van Rooyen, Benjamin Herman, Sam Most, Tiny Thompson, Suzan Veneman and Peter Beets, among others.

Selected discography:

Triplicate, Three And One (Self-released 2012)
Ellister van der Molen, Smalls NYC (2014)
New York Round Midnight, New York Round Midnight (Maxanter 2015)
RED, Ahooo!!! (2018)
RED, NOLA (2020)

Bob Wijnen is a mainstay on the Hague scene and sought-after pianist and organist in various modern jazz settings. Check out his record as a leader NY Unforseen with guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Billy Drummond here.

Go to RED here.

Find NOLA on Sound Liaison here.

RED NOLA (Sound Liaison 2020)

NEW RELEASE – RED

NOLA is one step further in the remarkable development of soul jazz outfit RED.

RED-NOLA-cover © De Zagerij ontwerpbureau

 

Personnel

Ellister van der Molen (trumpet), Gideon Tazelaar (tenor saxophone), Bob Wijnen (organ), Wouter Kühne (drums)

Recorded

in 2020 at Muziekcentrum van de Omroep in Hilversum

Released

as Sound Liaison download in 2020

Track listing

Art
It Ain’t My Fault
St. James Infirmary
Blues My Naughtie Sweetie Gives To Me
Sola
Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Tom Cat Blues
Monkey Puzzle
That’s A Plenty
Ahooo!


Black is the color of my true love’s hair… but red is the color of passion, wild roses, wine wine wine spo-dee-o-dee and the glow of the red-light district… RED, the band of trumpeter Ellister van der Molen, organist Bob Wijnen, tenor saxophonist Gideon Tazelaar and drummer Wouter Kühne, buoyantly evokes the spirit of New Orleans, cradle of jazz, art form born out of sleaze, resilience and the blues on NOLA, RED’s follow-up to 2018’s debut album Ahooo!. It delivers on the promise of RED’s promotional motto of ‘vibrant, uplifting’ jazz.

Van der Molen and Wijnen spent one week in The Big Easy in November 2019 and have turned their experience into song. The album, which comes in a stylish EP-sized package of drawings by Quirine Reijman with enclosed hi-res download by audiophile label Sound Liaison, was recorded in front of a live audience at Muziekcentrum van de Omroep in Hilversum. Killer vintage sound and atmosphere that makes momma Van Gelder proud.

RED feeds off legends Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, James Black and The Meters with various interesting approaches, turning in the restrained march of St. James Infirmary that features joyful muted trumpet, a modernized Blues My Naughtie Sweetie Gives To Me reminding us of the minor-keyed Jazz Messengers gems and the party-hardy Tom Cat Blues. Furthermore, the traditional Just A Closer Walk With Thee has an intriguing modal feel and a maximum of ‘ton-sûr-ton’ coloring.

The band delights in funk jazz, Latin tinges and the original Van der Molen ballad, Sola, which translates as ‘lonely’. Van der Molen’s attempt, through lyrical blue-isms and crystalline, outgoing high notes, as a contemplation on both the melancholic and purifying aspects of loneliness, is highly engaging and successful. In her own words, ‘a real tearjerker’. Ain’t that the truth!

Good vibrations have been at the core of RED’s personality from its inception in 2017 but NOLA signifies a maturity arguably heretofore absent. Tazelaar’s pleasantly languid beat is reminiscent of the old tenor masters and his contributions are playful and marked by surprising tranquility. His full and warm tone matches well with Van der Molen’s sweet-sour sound and both revel in the company of the spirited Kühne and Wijnen, who slaughters a couple of turkeys with spirited and well-developed single Hammond organ lines. Wijnen’s concise solo intermezzo’s between songs heighten the tension of the main course.

Strong effort reminding us of the miraculous melting pot legacy of New’Awlins.

Check out the website of RED and find NOLA here.

Hank Jones - The Trio

Hank Jones The Trio (Savoy 1955)

Hank Jones’s The Trio is one of the to-go-to albums as far as piano trio jazz from the 50s is concerned.

Hank Jones - The Trio

Personnel

Hank Jones (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass), Kenny Clarke (drums)

Recorded

on August 4, 1955 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey

Released

as Savoy 12023 in 1955

Track listing

Side A:
We’re All Together
Odd Number
We Could Make Such Beautiful Music Together
When Hearts Are Young
Side B:
Cyrano
There’s A Small Hotel
My Funny Valentine


Hank Jones quickly latched on to Parker and Gillespie’s brand new and complex symbiosis of harmony, melody and rhythm in the mid-40s. Bud Powell exerted a strong influence. However, the Vicksburg, Mississippi-born and Pontiac, Michigan-raised oldest brother of the equally legendary Thad and Elvin Jones, born in 1918, integrated bebop into an already formed style, which owed a lot to pianists like Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson. Jones journeyed through the swing bands of Hot Lips Page and Andy Kirk in the early 40s. Subsequently, Jones studied classical theory with the renowned Jascha Zade in New York, one of countless instances in jazz biography that debunks the preposterous myth of the classic jazz man as a ‘noble savage’.

Jones went with the Jazz At The Philharmonic package show in 1947. The following year saw him starting an association with Ella Fitzgerald, which lasted until 1953. Meanwhile, Jones had finally recorded with Charlie Parker in 1952 on the sessions that spawned the Now’s The Time 10inch on Clef. His immense career further included recordings with Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Cannonball Adderley, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Jimmy Raney, Emily Remler and Joe Lovano. Jones was the kind of player that fitted in effortlessly in every situation. One day he accompanied singer Dakota Staton, another day he participated in clarinetist Artie Shaw’s seminal Last Recordings.

In between Jones served as a staff pianist for the CBS broadcasting system from 1959 to ’74. After his return to jazz, Jones epitomized the piano trio format with his Great Piano Trio from 1976 till 2010 – the year he passed away; cooperations with the duos of Ron Carter/Tony Williams, Eddie Gomez/Al Foster or Jimmy Cobb, Mads Vinding/Billy Hart, Elvin Jones/Richard Davis and John Patitucci/Jack DeJohnette. Rhythm section paradise.

And the first major step of Jones as a piano trio player started, recording-wise, with The Trio in 1955. Jones is assisted by bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Kenny Clarke, who is responsible for making it, in the words of Dutch master drummer Eric Ineke, ‘one of the greatest brush records ever.’ Better believe it. The Trio is a record of sublime interaction and solo spots are not reserved strictly to the leader. There is a lot of room for Marshall and Clarke, whose precision and drive with the brushes as an accompanist are remarkable. His solo’s are textbook examples of meaningful simplicity.

Jones shares with the giants of jazz piano – Teddy Wilson, Earl Hines, Nat Cole – a synchronicity of harmony and melody that is impeccable, to the point where one begins to feel weightless, drifting within a cloud dreamily and fulfilled. Among other things, Jones is elegant and an expert of the arc, essential feat for meaningful storytelling. These qualities run through the bebop of We’re All Together, Charlie Parker’s blues Now The Time and the jaunty Cyrano, credited, very likely unjustly, to producer Ozzie Cadena. They pervade the wonderful ballads We Could Make So Much Good Music Together and My Funny Valentine, the latter a cushion-soft gem. You gotta love Odd Number, which unusual meter and playful melody make your ears perk up, an element that is reminiscent of some of Horace Silver’s refreshing and smart early career tunes, like Horace-Scope.

Hank Jones was no ‘odd number’, but graceful and composed to the core, and to the end.