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As always his piano lines are fresh, inspired, and uncrowded. (The secret of Lewis' music is preparation and space.) Lewis plays gorgeous introductions (another area of mastery) and tags to many of the pieces. The repertoire is variedmostly vintage Lewis pieces in new guises. Two have new titles: "The Festivals" was recorded as "In a Crowd" and "December, Remember" is based on "Winter's Tale." There are a couple of what I believe are new tunes"Cain and Abel" with an Old World flavor and "Sammy." "Afternoon in Paris" is taken brighter than usual but retains its bittersweet feel. The march section of "Trieste" has been transplanted to "Afternoon in Paris," a piece which also includes a some piano counterpoint and a lick from "The Marseilles." "Django" is presented over a staggering tango with the blues section heavily syncopated. "The Festivals" and "What Is This Thing Called Love" are more intense as Lewis cuts loose, driven by Lewis Nash. Lewis first recorded the classic blues "Parker's Mood" with Charlie Parker in 1948. If there was ever any doubt about Lewis' blues playing this cut settles that question.
The accompanying musicians do just that. They are all capable soloists, but here they "just" play with beauty and taste. (Johnson does take some breaks on the old-time blues "Sammy.") Collins and Alden play the dreaded rhythm guitar, but it's light and musical (Barry Galbraith)not that chunky feel big bands exploit to try to get themselves swinging.
John Lewis Discography:http://www.jazclass.aust.com/lewis1.htm#03
Track Listing: The Festivals; Parker's Mood; December, Remember; Afternoon in Paris; Cain and Abel; Come Rain or Come Shine; Trieste; Django; Sammy; What Is This Thing Called Love.
Personnel: John Lewis-piano; Howard Collins or Howard Alden - guitar; Marc Johnson or George Mraz - bass; Lewis Nash - drums.
Record Label: Atlantic Jazz
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