Saddened by the same-week passing of Milt "Bags" Jackson, Art Farmer and pianist Manfredo Fest, Kenny Drew Jr. developed this tribute. Yes, yet another homage, but Remembrance is delivered sans mimicry or pretension, and Drew's no nonsense delivery of the CD's 11 mostly well-known pieces make it a shoo-in for repeat listens.
While Jackson and Farmer are well-chronicled players, the Porto Alegre-born Fest was one of the more underrated practitioners of Brazilian jazz, spending many of his most creative years playing in the Twin Cities. Drew's orchestral capacity at the piano and boundless capacity for melody is most apparent on his "Song for Manfredo," appropriate because of Fest's lyrical playing, and his lovely treatment of Jobim's "Children's Games."
Drew's complementary rhythm section includes bassist Santi de Briano and drummer Tony Jefferson; guest soloists Stefon Harris and Wallace Roney are on three tracks each. The graceful harmonic landscape of Fred Hersch's "Mirage" serves as an apt entry point for trumpeter Roney's understated contributions. Harris and Drew's simpatico playing is reminiscent of Jackson and Oscar Peterson's. Harris does Bags proud, particularly on "Stairway to the Stars," where he takes an exquisite solo.