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Oliver Jones: Just For My Lady

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Pianist and Canadian national treasure Oliver Jones turns 80 next year-yet another reason to celebrate his artistry and appeal. Just for My Lady offers an early invitation to the party via a collection of mostly swinging performances that radiate a sunny vitality.

In a Count Basie state of mind, Jones opens with the self-penned, Southwest swing-flavored “Josee’s Blues,” a tribute to his special guest on this recording, violinist Josee Aidans. Aidans’ participation further influences the choice of tunes and moods, in ways that often evoke Stéphane Grappelli, Claude Williams and other jazz violin masters; a prime example, of course, is “Lady Be Good,” the album’s exuberant coda. But her soulful, Grappelli-tinged approach to “The Windmills of Your Mind,” underscored by bassist Eric Lagacé’s bowed lines, is similarly telling.

Punctuating the album (and also enhanced by Aidans’ lyricism and resourcefulness) is The Saskatchewan Suite. Written by Jones, it comprises three contrasting portraits: the pensive “Prince Albert Sunrise,” the expansive “Regina Sky” and the rhythmically charged “Saskatoon Spirit.” Suffice it to say that midway through the performance, it’s clear the Chamber of Commerce should cut the composer a check.

Jones’ longtime accompanists-bassist Lagacé and drummer Jim Doxas-are showcased in a variety of attractive settings, thanks to a string of well-crafted arrangements that eschew routine breaks and exchanges. That’s one of the reasons why the album’s midtempo highlights, including Jones’ lovely title composition, cast a spell.

Originally Published