Willie Jones III’s new release follows Vol. 1…Straight Swingin’ and Vol. 2…Don’t Knock The Swing, and as on those it features Jones III’s longtime associate, the accomplished pianist Eric Reed. However, on two cuts the drummer’s father, Willie Jones II—his earliest musical inspiration—takes over the piano bench and more than holds his own in comparison to the better-known Reed. Dwayne Burno and Mike Elizondo split the duties on bass for this trio date. Jones III was a co-founder of the hot ‘90s band Black Note, and has since played drums for a who’s who of jazzmen, primarily in the last year for Hank Jones, Kurt Elling and Reed (he’s on Reed’s Here CD).
On the opening cut, Cedar Walton’s “Shoulders,” one instantly appreciates the drummer’s delicate touch and deft punctuations behind Reed’s swinging, relentlessly surging solo, as well as the great rapport between these two polished artists. Reed’s “The First Man” contains more superlative Reed, typically swinging with many variations within his solo—single-note lines, block chords, flurries of notes followed by spacing, extended runs—the whole palette of possibilities is explored. He’s an absorbing, complete pianist, and Jones III is his match with perfect percussive commentary. McCoy Tyner’s “Inception” offers still more of Reed’s unflagging inventiveness on the classic theme, and some exciting exchanges with the drummer. “Wail Bait” by Quincy Jones is pure bebop, with Reed’s compelling improv sounding like a mix of Bud Powell and Hank Jones, with Jones III’s bop phrasings as good as they come.
The drummer’s father takes “Here’s That Rainy Day” at a leisurely pace, showing off a bluesy style out of the Gene Harris school of earthy keyboard playing. On the gospel song “I Heard a Forest Praying” (Peter DeRose), Jones II delivers a soulful, reverent and highly polished treatment.