January/February 1997

Jane Jarvis
Jane Jarvis Jams
Jane Jarvis and Jay Leonhart
Jane and Jay at Duke's Place
Progressive

Pianist Jane Jarvis infuses everything she plays with her joyful spirit. Watching her at the piano-silver hair flying, wide smile-is almost as much fun as listening to her. This spirit underlies these two very different releases, both of which reflect her solid swing roots. Jarvis is a wonderful ensemble player; her musical knowledge is encyclopedic and her musical communication is topnotch. These same qualities also make her a prime duo partner.

On Jane Jarvis Jams she collaborates with longtime buddy, drummer Grady Tate, bassist Bob Haggart, and trombonist/cornetist Dan Barrett. Their varied backgrounds-studio drum king, big band and Dixieland, respectively-add an eclectic touch which melds into a pleasurable mix on a group of old standards. "Cherokee" becomes a waltz; "Begin The Beguine" is done in Jarvis' "blaze-away Spaniard" style; "What's New" features a stunning intro by Jarvis. Tate and Haggart provide steady rhythmic drive throut and Barrett's horns steer them a little toward New Orleans.

The Jane and Jay date with Duke plays like the lovely improvised tete-a-tete it apparently was. Jarvis and Leonhart went into the studio with nothing planned and laid down most tracks in one take. Leonhart exhibits a side here that's largely background on his own recordings, which showcase him as singer/songwriter; here he is as delightfully talented bassist. Jarvis gives him lots of space while still taking her own, and the two of them glide through tempos, styles and Ellington as though they and Duke have been hanging together forever. -Sunsh Stein

Originally published in January/February 1997
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