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January/February 2006

The Great Jazz Trio
'S Wonderful
441

Hank Jones, a true aristocrat of jazz piano, was 85 when this recording was made in 2004. His Great Jazz Trio has been around for almost 30 years, with various first-call bassists and drummers. His new team is state-of-the-art: bassist John Patitucci and drummer Jack DeJohnette.

Given the personnel, the sheer class of this project is a given. The recorded sound is a lock also, because the engineer in Avatar Studio was the late David Baker. He recorded the session in Direct Stream Digital (DSD), and his delineation of the three instruments is exact.

But the choice of material here is limiting. There are too many tunes that have been done to death ("Sweet Lorraine," "The Days of Wine and Roses"), and Jones' measured elegance does not infuse them with new interest. It is a tough challenge to make yet another version of "Take Five" sound needed, even with a DeJohnette solo that comments cleverly on Joe Morello's famous original. "Moanin'" is another song whose simple message has been delivered definitively by people who specialize in its genre (for instance, its composer, Bobby Timmons).

"Greensleeves," however, defies the same obstacles and works. Patitucci's bass, arco and pizzicato, makes it poignant all over again.

Originally published in January/February 2006
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