May 1997

Mike Jones
Runnin' Wild
Chiaroscuro Records

It takes a remarkable jazz musician to sustain not only the listener's attention but also his enthusiasm throughout an hour-plus performance of unaccompanied piano solos, but that's exactly what Bostonian Mike Jones does on this live set from the Marquee at the Tralf in Buffalo, his regular gig during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Though a comparatively young man, he eschews allusions to bop and post-bop expected of a musician his age, preferring a broader stylistic base that variously incorporates elements of Hines, Tatum, classic stride, boogie woogie, and the single-note galloping bass most closely associated with Dave McKenna.

On "Ma (He's Making Eyes At Me)," he recalls the slow blues style of Art Hodes, certainly the last person one would think of in connection with this sophomoric, cutesy-pie piece of fluff. But, then again, it was Art himself who turned "Tennessee Waltz" into a blues. However, apart from this oddity, Jones' 12-tune playlist stays well within time-tested swing and ballad standards, on which he displays both a ferociously driving independence of right- and left-hand lines, as on "Oh! Lady Be Good," "Runnin' Wild," and "Linger Awhile," and a reflective lyricism tastefully distant from the floral bouquets of other chops-endowed pianists.

Originally published in May 1997
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