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.
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).