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Hod O’Brien: Blues Alley-Second Set

If, like me, you have missed Hod O’Brien, even though he has been around for 50 years and is one of the best pure bop piano players in the world, don’t get mad, get even: buy this record (and its companion volume, First Set).

O’Brien absolutely smokes this program of eight standards. You can get high on his clarity of articulation and coherent wholeness of form at fast tempos. While most of his interpretations are classically straightforward (and elegantly detailed), his halting, blockish treatment of Randy Weston’s “Little Niles” is personal, and O’Brien makes “In a Sentimental Mood” all dark and soulful by giving it away to bassist Ray Drummond.

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