"PENTHOUSE SERENADE: NAT KING COLE AT THE PIANO"
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Most of us tend to forget what a great straight ahead jazz piano player Nat Cole was.
As great a pianist as he was, that talent became overshadowed by his world wide acclaim as a balladeer. The Cole estate has allowed the release of essentially the entire Capitol library of Cole's work on Collector's Choice.
On this 28 track release, which combines two Capitol vinyl albums, the King's voice is silent and lets his fingers do the talking. His piano is so lyrical one doesn't miss his vocals at all … well maybe just a little bit.
From "Penthouse Serenade," we hear standards like "Laura," "Don't Blame Me," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "If I Should Lose You," "I Surrender Dear" and more.
From "The Piano Style of Nat Cole" there is "My Heart Stood Still," "Stella By Starlight," "I Never Knew," "Tea for Two," and 12 more. The latter 16 cuts place Cole in front of a large orchestra or string section. Those tunes are all lush and orchestrated by Nelson Riddle.
"SO MANY STARS"
JON MAYER TRIO
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Pianist Jon Mayer's work on this five star piano trio swings with a remarkable groove.
His life story is no less remarkable. He grew up in New York and, during the 60s and early '70s, worked with Jackie McLean, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan and other top caliber musicians.
Drug addiction caused him to disappear for a dark period of 15 years. He stopped music altogether. Finally he entered a 12-step program, began practicing and critics say his chops are better now than ever before.
His trio of drummer Roy Mc Curdy and bassist Rufus Reid play 11 tunes, some of which like "Jeannine" and "Blues by Five" are not the usual trio bill of fare. By no means however is Mayer a slave to the groove. His energetic yet sensitive approach to ballads like "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" and his solo effort on "Never, Never Land" reveal his inner being.
GREGG AUGUST SEXTET
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It always seems more real and fitting when a musician records his working band, and that is exactly what bassist-composer Greg August has done here.
Using the Duke Ellington model of writing compositions to suit individual band members, August successfully highlights their talents as well as his own compositional skills. The opener does just that with alto saxophonist Myron Walden claiming "Hand to Mouth." Although trumpeter John Bailey is so prominent, August must have had him in mind as well.
"In Dedication" is my favorite. It has a classic feel with fine unison work and great tenor effort by Stacy Dillard.
"FROM MY HEART TO YOURS"
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I don't know where I've been but this is the first Gloria Lynne recording I have ever reviewed.
If you like female singers and you prefer those with mellow resonant voices and who deliver lyrics in an honest and caring manner, then you should love Gloria Lynne.
She opens with an obscure but thought provoking tune, "Secret O' Life." "My Funny Valentine" is next. The first chorus is in traditional ballad style. The second finds a swinging groove enhanced by pianist John Di Martino, bassist Leon Lee Dorsey and drummer Victor Ector.
She also includes "Mountain Greenery," "It's Magic," "I Could Make You Care," "Wild Is The Wind" and more.
Dick Bogle hosts a weekly jazz radio show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays on 89.1 KMHD. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.