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Oliver Jones: Live in Baden, Switzerland

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What a treat for the Swiss audience when Oliver Jones played in Baden for the first time in May 1990. Flanked by Americans Reggie Johnson (bass) and Ed Thigpen (drums), the Canadian made it known that he was a maestro-albeit one recognized mainly in his home country. Jones’ fluidity and nimbleness are matched by his precision and command-the frequent shifts of tempo and ambiance might be jarring in lesser hands, but in Jones’ they’re seamless and provide a thrill a minute.

Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling in Love With Love” opens the hour-long set, and from the beginning Jones is out to make statements. The elegance of his solo intro, illustrious, unhurried flourishes alternating with vigorous, succinct runs, gives way by mid-song to sixth-sense trio transactions. Accelerating swiftly then taking it down a few notches, Jones never loses the lyricism and never cedes control; even when he steps back to grant solo time to his charges, there’s a sense that Jones is calling the shots.

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