Mike Longo: Dawn New Day

This is one of those jazz recordings that is eminently listenable, even to the uninitiated who, after they hear it, will say something like, “Hey, I like that. Is that really jazz?” And to those who appreciate the music, pianist Longo’s recording, Dawn New Day, will also captivate with its interesting solos, great arrangements, and a diverse program that ranges from Gershwin to Gillespie.

The operner and title tune-a Longo composition-is an infectious blues, and is followed by a program of melody-rich tunes by such heavies as Jerome Kern (“A Fine Romance,” and “Why Do I Love You”) to bebop classics by Diz (“Woody’n You”, “Tin Tin Deo”) and, for good measure, a Porgy and Bess medley that offers more than 11 minutes of virtuosity. Joining Longo are Paul West, Ben Brown, and John Lee sharing bass duties, and Ray Mosca and Ignacio Berroa on the drum seats.

Longo’s keyboard touch is light yet rich, and appreciative of the music he is interpreting. It’s also fun; there’s a large entertainment factor derived from good music that’s played very well.

Johnny Mandel’s “Shadow of Your Smile,” for example, shows off the tender balladeer quality that Longo possesses in spades but, in a heartbeat, he’s funky and hip, diving into, say, a John Berks tune with gobs of enthusiasm.

This is a quality recording that should have wide appeal.