This single CD from 1998 has all of the music from boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis' two Verve LPs of 1954-1955. The earlier date is a set of duets with drummer Louie Bellson, while the later session finds Lewis accompanied by bassist Red Callender and drummer Jo Jones. The packaging is perfect, and with 76-and-a-half minutes of playing, the amount of music is generous. The only problem is that there is a definite sameness to the 14 selections (which mostly clock in between four and seven minutes), the majority of which are medium-tempo blues romps. None of the melodies (all Lewis originals) are at all memorable. The romping momentum of the music overall is difficult to resist, but it is advisable to listen to this set in small doses.
Mose Alliso R.I.P. Influential blues and jazz pianist Mose Allison, whose songs were covered by an array of rock veterans, died Tuesday at the age of 89 of natural causes. Although Mose Allison is perhaps best known for his enjoyably idiosyncratic vocal style, he is first and foremost a marvelous piano player with a unique style pitched somewhere between a New Orleans bordello and the rhythmic and harmonic experimentation of Thelonious Monk or Sun Ra. This well-chosen 1966 compilation (released after Allison had split for Atlantic Records) pulls together ten of his best instrumentals from four of his six Prestige albums, and it makes a strong case for Allison as one of the most inventive piano players and composers of his generation.
"…Stefan Irmer has clearly studied and truly learned this music. So often on a disc of rarely performed music one gets the feeling that the pianist is sight-reading the notes in order to make a recording of previously unrecorded music. Not so here. Irmer performs with wonderful clarity, variety of tone, panache, and commitment. He truly sells the music.
Natural recorded sound, capturing very well the 1901 Steinway used for the recording, rounds out a delightful disc." ~Fanfare
Is there a better trio than the Florestan playing today? All three members are consummate artists, outstanding instrumentalists, and ensemble players to the manner born, but it’s the playing of pianist Susan Tomes that carries these performances to their greatest heights. Since the ensemble is perfectly judged by all concerned, it may seem unjust to single out the playing of one member for special comment, but such is the extreme sophistication, the extraordinary subtlety and the expressive range of this artist that I can see no alternative. The tonal control, the exquisite shaping of phrases, the rhythmical suppleness and structural backbone are of an order seldom encountered in the playing even of many famous soloists. But what renders her playing here still more remarkable is the exemplary precision with which it’s matched to the different sonorities and qualities of attack, so-called, of the string players. And what players they are. For all of the above this is not a pianist-dominated performance, except insofar as Schubert wrote the piece that way.