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Kirk Lightsey: Goodbye Mr. Evans

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Goodbye Mr. Evans, a trio date, has several features to recommend it: the lead piano of Lightsey, a typically elegant musical godson of Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan; an introduction to the excellent bass work of a young Hungarian named Tibor Elekes; a chance to hear F. Don Moye, long-time drummer with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, playing a “straight” set (as he does with Lightsey and pal Bowie in The Leaders); a genuinely relaxed mood; above average material.

Best of all is the room the three take to stretch without letting things sag. That happens when a leader can confidently let his guys take key solos that go places: Elekes’ opener on Jimmy Heath’s “A New Blue,” Moye’s glue that joins hands and dances through a speedy suite of jazz classics by E. Harris, Shorter, “Temptation,” Coltrane. (Moye also walks in a loose Monk tune, shuffles quickstep brushes in a surprise intro to Lightsey’s laid-back “Habiba,” and finds coconut colors and cowbells to shade Elekes’ solo and ostinato basslines.)

This very fine, musically unhurried trio date was recorded in Switzerland; all members live in Europe. Vivent les expatriates!

On Kirk N’ Marcus, Lightsey shifts gears to accommodate two great horn players: legendary trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, far longer (some would say too long) a teacher in Detroit than playing “out” and Jean Toussaint, the fiery Aruba-born tenor player who worked with Art Blakey (1982-6). The rhythm team of powerful bassist Santi DeBriano and veteran drummer Eddie Gladden applies extra bounce and flexibility. Ballad features for Toussaint (“Golden Legacy”) and Belgrave (“Loves I Once Knew”) are exceptionally poignant and beautiful. The five dust off and polish to a shine the Kenny Dorham Georgia-Brown-based “Windmill”. It’s just one more superb quintet date produced by Gerry Teekens, the Dutch Master of New York’s new bop.