October 2005

Hank Jones
For My Father
Justin Time Records

This is a pleasant trio album with pianist Hank Jones, bassist George Mraz and drummer Dennis Mackrel. It suggests a supper-club set. Jones, in his mid-80s, with musical genes and 70 years of performing as assets, plays the piano with a clean flow of ideas and execution. His approach is lyrical and pretty. He even beautifies Monk's "Bemsha Swing," a tune that can lead an improviser to barbs and angles instead.

Besides Monk, Jones performs Ellington and Strayhorn, Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter and lesser-known jazz composers. His chord voicings have enough tartness to keep things from getting too lush, and he maintains a trim sense of swing-with a soft-shoe rhythmic kick reminiscent of Teddy Wilson, his early influence. The performances are tasty.

Mraz, who combines an Old World woody tone and the agile bass lyricism born in the early '60s, grows warmer with each album. This one continues the trend, with performances such as "Johnny Come Lately" and "Lotus Blossom" as examples. Mackrel, whose frequent solos are underrecorded, has a tap dancer's instincts-perfect in the context of this group.

Originally published in October 2005
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