Customer Reviews: Tommy Flanagan Plays the Music of Harold Arlen
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on February 16, 2013
As expected, what else could you expect from Tommy Flanagan except excellence. He had an excellent group with him that complemented him in excellence also. Connie Kay was just excellent on the drums, and so was George Mraz on the bass. The quaslity of the sound was exemplary in its clarity. I really enjoyed listening to this album, and I am very glad that I bought.

I definitely recommend this album to those who are Jazz Music Lovers.

Morehouse 1960.
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Probably best remembered as the pianist who was on arguably Coltrane's most seminal, important record, "Giant Steps," Tommy was also present for a definitive Dexter Gordon recording, "The Panther," accounting for possibly the best "Body and Soul" on record. He coaxes magic from a piano while transforming it into an animate, breathing, living, spiritual thing (and piano is considered a "percussion instrument"). His version of "Over the Rainbow" is to that song what Kenny Barron's is to "Blue Moon" (from "Live at Bradley's) or Bill Evans' is to "My Foolish Heart" (the Vanguard sessions). The touch, the melodic ideas, the phrasing (the piano pours out notes in continuous unbroken breath-streams), and even the key (A !?! for "Rainbow") all contribute to one of the freshest of all jazz piano trio sessions. Tommy makes even some of the most elegant and delicate players--Billy Taylor, Ralph Sharon, Hank or Jimmy Jones--sound aggressive by comparison, yet you hardly dare miss a note. He's not nearly as well represented on record as he should be (I prefer many of his dates with other musicians to his own outings, on which the piano adheres to a "house sound"). On this occasion, however, everything was in Tommy's favor, including the somewhat surprising rhythm team of the strong stallion George Mraz on bass and the veteran rhythmic inspiration of the MJQ, Connie Kay.

If you don't get this one, pick up the aptly titled session "Jazz Poet," but be sure to download "Over the Rainbow" (and be thankful if you don't have perfect pitch and consequently feel compelled to try playing the tune in that key).
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This is my favorite Arlen tribute album. Actually, it shares the favorite spot with Oscar Peterson's Plays the Harold Arlen Song Book, but for different reasons.

I am not going to compare Flanagan to any other pianist because his playing stands on its own merit. I will explain why he ranks among my favorites. At the top of the list is his ability to take liberties with melodies, including abstracting them (a software engineering term that expresses it better than I can using any other word at the moment), without losing their essence. That style is evidenced on every track in this album.

On this album he shows why he was considered to be a favorite of vocalists, among them Ella Fitzgerald. Indeed,on track 9 he is backing Helen Merrill who is perfect for the song.

Another reason why I love this album is the rhythm section. Bassist George Mraz and Flanagan have a history that shows in this album. They certainly understand one another and I am guessing that Mraz is on this album at Flanagan's request. Connie Kay on drums is absolutely perfect. The same taste and sensibility that he displayed during his long tenure with the Modern Jazz Quartet is what makes him the ideal choice for this album. Kay has been a deep influence on my own playing, so having him here is a bonus for me. That brings me to a parallel between this and the Oscar Peterson album I mentioned. The drummer on many of those tracks was Ed Thigpen who was also known for taste.

Give the sound samples on the MP3 version of the album's product page a run through at Tommy Flanagan Plays the Music of Harold Arlen. Those alone should sell you and they certainly provide ample information about the quality of the music.

This was recorded for the Interplay label in NYC on September 30 and October 2, 1978, which was around the time Flanagan had to leave Ella's organization because of his health. As such this is Flanagan in his real element - jazz piano trio - and if you are a fan this is an album not to be passed up.
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on July 10, 2013
With his usual elegance, Tommy Flanagan covers Arlen's standards. I really wanted to order his homage to Ella Fitzgerald, _Lady Be Good_. When will that work be re-released?
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on April 26, 2016
Excellent cd
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