January/February 2005

Anthony Wonsey Trio
Blues for Hiroshi
Sharp Nine

The CD cover of Blues for Hiroshi (Sharp Nine) carries the subtitle Swingin' With the Anthony Wonsey Trio. Here's to truth in advertising. Anthony Wonsey, who apprenticed with the late great Elvin Jones, proudly pledges allegiance once again to the bebop verities on his first release in five years and fourth CD as a leader. Turn to the closing "Relaxin' at Camarillo" for a winning demonstration of his ease with classic Parker-derived material, and his tradition-oriented sensibility also reveals itself in the stride introduction he amends to "Nobody Else but Me." In drummer Tony Reedus and bassist Richie Goods, Wonsey has a steam engine of a rhythm team, one that allows him to indulge in spirited charges across the keyboard secure in their support. Thankfully, he also knows how to skillfully pace himself, bathing ballads ("The Peacocks") and midtempo performances ("Black Fairy Tales") in plummy tones. He's learned a golden rule of jazz: if you can't relax, you aren't swingin' at all.

Originally published in January/February 2005
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