Live at the Blue Note
Half Note Records
Four years of studies with Kenny Barron at Rutgers University and wide recognition as runner-up in the 1996 Great American Piano Competition undoubtedly fortified pianist Jon Regen's talents and infused him with confidence. At this May 4, 1998, Blue Note Jazz Club date, Regen displays well-honed, elegant chops, performing for the first time with veteran bassist Ray Drummond to deliver a hardy set of seven (mostly original) tunes enhanced by Yoron Israel's creative timekeeping. A dynamic player, Regen phrases with resourcefulness and sensitivity, especially on lengthier tunes such as his riffing Latinate original "From Left to Right," a joyous remake of "You Don't Know What Love Is," and the sonorous finale, "Un Pollo Loco." Guest saxophonist Joel Frahm warmly expands three tracks, but the synergistic trio renderings sparkle with energy, ebullience and daring ideas to clinch this satisfying live performance. Judging by this first-rate debut recording, Regen made the right choice when he switched from saxophone to piano at age 17. He's a gifted pianist-composer whose burgeoning career merits tracking.