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Kenny Jr. Drew Trio: Winter Flower

Drew, whose father brightened up the bop piano scene in this country in the ’50s before emigrating to Europe in 1961, hasn’t let much grass grow under his feet since winning the 1990 Great American Jazz Piano competition. He made his recording debut the following year and has since gone on to record nearly a score of albums for a variety of labels. Winter Flower is his first for Milestone and on it he weaves a tapestry that incorporates many musical threads. His early classical training is apparent on striking versions of Federico Mompou’s lovely “Cancion y Danza V1,” which gets the benefit of Drew’s arrangement, and Chopin’s “Waltz in A Minor.”

Now 41, Drew is at ease in both worlds and jazz fans-who may chafe at his classical offerings and his closing tribute to the Argentinian bandoneon master Astor Piazolla-certainly ought to enjoy his takes on Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser” and “Played Twice,” Herbie Nichols’ jaunty “117th Street,” and Keith Jarrett’s “Bop Be.” Yet it’s this same classical training which enables him to be comfortable using both hands as he so ably shows us throughout, especially on the title track, a tune recorded by his father, and further, on such marvelous interpretations of Strayhorn’s “Isfahan” and the standards “But Beautiful” and “Spring Is Here,” which gets an especially innovative introduction. The accompaniment by bassist Lynn Seaton and drummer Tony Jefferson is impeccable. More, please.

Originally Published