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John Eaton: Live at Steinway Hall

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John Eaton is not a familiar name, at least outside of the D.C. area, where his contributions to the trad scene have been appreciated for quite a few years. The impetus behind Live at Steinway Hall was an opportunity to play a fabulous new instrument called “The Rhapsody” in honor of George Gershwin, whose work, along with that of Harold Arlen, dominates the program here. Most of the tunes are familiar, and Eaton often sounds as if he’s so taken with the beautiful sound of the piano that he doesn’t push much either in terms of tempo or dynamics. When he does cut loose a little he has an engaging swing and a lot of neat tricks. I especially like his walking bass lines and the sneaky way he has of moving figures from one hand to the other.