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Larry Willis Trio: The Big Push

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Larry Willis has made sideman appearances on over 300 albums. He has also made several outstanding recordings under his own name, including Solo Spirit and Sanctuary on Mapleshade and A Tribute to Someone on AudioQuest. Willis’ albums have usually been sonically excellent (Mapleshade and AudioQuest are respected audiophile labels), and this tradition continues with The Big Push. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Rudy Van Gelder who, at 81, is delivering the finest sound of his distinguished career.

With Buster Williams and Al Foster on board, the musical support system is also state of the art on this trio date. As a pianist, Willis is primarily known for his powerful assertiveness. The program here is full of headlong uptempo celebrations like “Poppa Nat” (a Willis original for his former boss Nat Adderley), “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top” (Buster Williams gets out his whip) and “Just Wait and See,” an appealing theme by Italian pianist Tony Pancella. Willis also plays with heart, and his own ballad “The Day You Said Goodbye” has emotional truth (deepened by input from Williams).

This is a classy recital, made even more fun by Van Gelder’s clean, full -bandwidth sound.