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Eddie Diehl and Hank Jones: Well, Here It Is

There is as much honesty as there is musicianship on Eddie Diehl’s debut as a leader. The guitarist is so self-effacing that he uses his liner notes-two short paragraphs!-to explain his reluctance in assuming any role other than sideman. Still uncomfortable without a safety net, he insists on Jones sharing top billing with him. Then, sheepishly, he declares, “Well, Here It Is.” And what it is is a totally satisfying, urbane, smoothly swinging conversation among four polished jazz veterans: Along with pianist Jones are bassist John Webber and drummer Mickey Roker. No bells and whistles; no gimmickry. Hell, no arrangements either, just a bit of preplanning.

Here’s the Diehl: He’s an excellent chordal swinger and boasts single-string runs in the Barney Kessell/Herb Ellis tradition. His sense of humor is deceptive. From out of nowhere he sneaks “Ol’ Man River” in “Love You Madly” and “Mean to Me” in “My Heart Stood Still.” His dialogues with Jones are memorable, particularly their exchanges of eights and fours on Diehl’s original bossa nova “Semisamba.” Roker provides solid support, even when hinting at double time with his brushes on “My Romance.” As for Webber, his walking reveals absolutely flawless intonation-again, check “My Romance.”

Originally Published