I like acoustic piano a lot. It offers the richest tonal and harmonic palette to the talented improvisor. Two new albums from the High Note Company and its other label, Savant, represent the creme de la creme of piano jazz.
The first is George Cables’ My Muse, featuring veterans Essiet Essiet on bass and Victor Lewis on drums. On it he mixes standards with a few originals. His playing is crisp and fluid, and Essiet and Lewis follow him telepathically. To my surprise, given that I’ve said that few pianists have incorporated Ahmad Jamal’s motifs into their work, I find a good dose of Ahmad’s influence in here. Cables is a veteran jazz man who used to work and live in LA, now he’s up in the SF Bay Area. This album is a welcome addition to his catalogue, and I highly recommend it.
The other album is by pianist Bruce Barth: Three Things of Beauty. It features another cast of top-flight musicians: Steve Nelson provides the cool, hip sounds of the vibes, Ben Street on bass, and Dana Hall on drums. The music is thoughtful and poised, and there is an ever-present clarity of conception and execution. The piano-vibes connection is always attractive, and there is great synergy throughout.
I highly recommend these two new albums to jazz lovers. The music, recorded sound and production are great…the pianos are Steinways……You can’t be disappointed.