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Andy LaVerne: All Ways

The idea here is to replace the bass in a piano trio with an organ. I confess I was expecting the worst. My only other exposure to this approximate concept was a Michel Petrucciani duo album with organist Eddy Louiss, Conference de Presse. As a Petrucciani fan, I resented Louiss’ presence.

But All Ways is different. Andy LaVerne on piano and Gary Versace on organ sound absolutely natural and complementary together. There is plenty of space in their musical world for two keyboards because they are both good listeners. They take turns out front (where each is a fully persuasive improviser), but on their chordal instruments they are able to comp for one another as no bassist could. Billy Drummond is the drummer, and he wisely keeps everything crisp and airy.

Two songs that share a potential for silliness in the wrong hands reveal how fully LaVerne and Versace maximize the opportunities of their format. “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” are never heavy-handed but are traced with fine lines. Two equally appealing keyboard voices trade off or join in graceful counterpoint or sometimes melt into one another.

It all works so well, you wonder why more people don’t try it. Maybe I should listen to Conference de Presse again.

Originally Published