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Spike Wilner: Le Tendresse

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Following the stirring modal opener, Wilner’s original title track which carries a distinct McCoy Tyner influence, the pianist settles into a program of charming old-school ditties performed either solo or with accompaniment by his capably swinging rhythm tandem of bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Joey Saylor. There’s a giddy solo piano interpretation of Harold Arlen’s “If I Only Had a Brain” that has Wilner dipping into a genteel stride bag. The trio’s take on Scott Joplin’s ragtime classic “Solace” is underscored by a gentle, New Orleans-flavored rhumba-boogie groove, with Saylor on brushes and Douglas on upright. They also turn in a sprightly, syncopated 3/4 rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Always” and a bristling boogie-woogie take on the Tin Pan Alley classic “After You’ve Gone,” which became a swing-era jam favorite. And they strike a sublime accord on a Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart ballad from 1935, “Little Girl Blue.”

Some delightful surprises here include faithful renditions of Monk’s “Crepuscule With Nellie” and the obscure but alluring Duke Ellington number “Le Sucrier Velours,” both perfromed with the trio, plus a delicate, slightly melancholy solo piano take on the Carol Burnett Show theme song, “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together.” Wilner’s other affecting originals include the swinging “Silver Cord” and the aptly named closer, “Happy Ending,” a brief burner that no doubt serves as the perfect break song for Wilner when he performs regularly at Smalls in New York.

Originally Published