With the help of several independent labels and some of the best bassists and drummers in the business, Richard Wyands has been quietly building a superb body of jazz piano trio recordings. Amazing enough, As Long As There’s Music is his first American recording as a leader. Other trio recordings have been released by European labels such as Steeplechase and Criss Cross. On this outing, Wyands is accompanied by bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Grady Tate - many a pianist’s dream rhythm section. His recent string of trio recordings with first rate rhythm sections is a testament to the pianist’s stature in the jazz world.
This recording is a presentation of what admirers of Wyands have long cherished – his rich sense of tradition, his impeccable taste, his rhythmic ease, and his harmonic sophistication. Wyands is not a flashy pianist; he is a pianist of thoughtful, deeply felt emotion that is fully supported by the integrity of his technique and his artistic choices.
Tadd Dameron’s “Focus” is one of the highlights of this recording. Wyands’ subtle shift in tempo over the stop-and-go course of the opening slides into a long, upbeat, boppish solo that brightly rounds the usual edges. Drummond follows with a concise solo before Wyands and Tate trade fours, leading to the closing. This track illustrates the trio’s easy rapport throughout the session.
Another highlight is Wyands’ solo performance on “My Old Flame,” a track that vividly demonstrates the casual complexity of his rhythmic sense. A careful listening to his left hand at work, and how Wyands incorporates silences, is enlightening. Incidentally, this track does bring up the obvious – that a solo Wyands recording is long overdue. Anyone familiar with this artist’s trio work will be happy to know that this recording is in the same league with his recent recordings with Peter and Kenny Washington on Criss Cross - high praise indeed.