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Joe Augustine: Cool Today, Jazz Tonight

Pianist Joe Augustine is smiling broadly on the cover of his album Cool Today, Jazz Tonight (1201 Music 6012-2; 50:40), and his expression reflects the recording’s overall feel: this is an album on which good humor predominates.

A dexterous pianist with a command of a wide range of styles, Augustine performs both original compositions and standards on Cool Today, Jazz Tonight, and he reenvisions the standards in innovative-and mostly upbeat-ways. When singer Peggy Lee recorded “Fever,” she infused it with plenty of sultry smolder; here, Augustine picks up the tempo and mood, and yet manages not to lose the feel of the song. Elsewhere, “Peel Me a Grape” gets a jazzy, bright-at times, forceful-treatment. Augustine’s originals also demonstrate his broad-ranging aptitude: He opens the album with the peppy, swinging “Groove Attitude,” turns in a playful, fleet-fingered performance on the high-spirited “Samba de Boyz” and waxes romantically lyrical on the ballad “(On This) Special Day.” The pianist closes the album on a dramatic note with “No More Tears,” which reveals his facility in both classical and jazz idioms.

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