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Richard Wyands: Half and Half

Except on his originals “Blues for Kosi” and “Half and Half” unsung veteran pianist Richard Wyands sticks to the oldies but goodies on this album. Luckily, he’s an astute interpreter and a fine improviser and chestnuts such as “I’m Old Fashioned” and Harold Arlen’s “As Long As I Love” still burst with equal amounts of gleeful optimism and assured wisdom, making this collection a pleasurable, easily digestible offering.

All of the experiences that Wyands gained from working with vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McRae inform his orchestral playing style and attentiveness to the melody. His reading of Porter’s “P.S. I Love You” sparkles as his crisp notes state the melody against his thick chordal bedding. With Peter Washington’s dark, resonant bass gently swaggering the song, Jobim’s “Once I Loved,” seduces as Wyands gives the swooning melody a delicate hip-swerving shimmy with percussive attacks.

The supremely supportive and comparatively younger rhythm section of drummer Peter Washington and bassist Kenny Washington (no relation) wonderfully complements Wyands’ effervescent playing with posh sensitivity. Never in the way, but always in the pocket, the two Washingtons help drive this trio setting to the sublime.

Originally Published