|The Great Jazz Trio - Someday My Prince Will Come|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 31 August 2004|
This is a very fine jazz album that keeps things simple but never forgets that improvisation and often relentless tempos and riffs are the key. Featuring Hank Jones on piano, his brother Elvin Jones (who recently passed away) on drums and Richard Davis on bass, The Great Jazz Trio cook up some classic hits with a refined style that shows just how good these three jazz veterans have become over the years.
Smith was one of the original founding members of the trio, which had different bass and drum players throughout its existence, and which culminated in this last get-together of three men who collectively had over 130 years of musical experience at the time of the recording. Elvin Jones is considered to be one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time, having played most notably in the John Coltrane Quartet. He has a great drum interlude on Cole Porter’s “You’d be so Nice to Come Home To,” which many people will recognize, even if they’ve never heard of Porter. A revered pianist, Hank Jones has played with Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker and others. He is noted for having excellent taste and a masterful melodic sophistication that comes across beautifully in “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” and “A Child is Born.” Davis is accomplished bassist, having played with Sarah Vaughn, Frank Sinatra and in classical orchestras under the conduction of Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky. Based solely on their track records, The Great Jazz Trio has everything going for them and they do not disappoint. The choice of tracks is equaled only by the sweet smoothness with which they are played. Many possible subtleties are realized by all three members and the way they work together is truly outstanding.
Hank Jones plays the piano in the way it seems a piano would wish to be played. His hands glide over the keys, pushing them but never seeming to strike them, and the resulting sound is pulled and coaxed out of the strings. Davis’ bass is so subtle that while it never draws overt attention to itself, without it and/or his skill, the dropout in sound would be stultifying and painful to the ear. Elvin’s drums keep everything else in check and add the final piece of both mood and tempo, as exemplified on Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll.” This is an example of just how well the three work together. Jazz, due to its improvisational nature, sometimes has the propensity to get cluttered up, especially with musicians who are either unused to playing with each other or who simply can’t appreciate the subtleties inherent in the music. Never does the sound here become cluttered or feel as if it’s pulling us in too many directions at once. It is sublime, inspiring and fun.
The production recording and mixing is absolutely phenomenal, a must for jazz, where the smallest sounds of the instruments as well as the subtleties of the playing are paramount not only to the execution of the music but also to the enjoyment of the listener. At times, I feel as if the trio are sitting in my room playing only for me, so clear is the sound. This is thanks in no small part to famed producer Yasohachi “88” Itoh, who, by bringing together these three jazz greats, has given us a remarkably smooth album that belongs in any music lover’s collection, jazz fan or not.