A portrait of the artist Hank Jones, taken over two decades, emerges from these three recording sessions, and it’s most flattering. The pianist’s “sittings” consist of a 1956 studio date plus two nights at the Village Vanguard. Ironically, there’s an unevenness in sound quality on the studio-recorded The New York Rhythm Section, but there is never a hint of unevenness when it comes to Jones’ playing. He is a paragon of consistency: always elegant, refined and one helluva swinger. The 21 tracks cover everything from straightahead swing to polite bop. Jones’ standout moments come on “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” with his trademark gentle touch, and “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me,” where Jones shows off his penchant for reharmonizing and his agility with block chords. Bassist Milt Hinton provides another highlight on his own lovely ballad, “Mona’s Feeling Lonely,” accompanied only by Barry Galbraith’s guitar. Another original worth mentioning is the deliciously slow blues by guest trombonist Jimmy Cleveland-not only for his exceptional playing but also for Jones’ memorable comping.
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