The Great Jazz Trio: 'S Wonderful (2005)
As everyone probably knows by now, Jones is playing piano magnificently these days. His playing is precise, vigorous, and always imbued with his trademark effervescent swing. Patitucci and DeJohnette don't defer to Jones one iota, nor does he to them; this is a band of equals. That might suggest that DeJohnette's muscle is overpowering and inappropriate to Jones' lighter touch, or that Jones is playing these tunessome of which, "S'Wonderful, or "Sweet Lorraine, for example, he's played countless times in his careerthe same way he always does, no matter who's accompanying him. None of this is true.
The band charges out of the gate so vehemently on the album's title track that the listener is taken aback: it's almost violently swinging, and no one's giving any quarter on the breaks (and the tune, really, is nothing but breaks)whether it's DeJohnette's skidding snare rolls, Patitucci's low-end barrage, or Jones' sparkling right hand runs. You can almost smell the second-hand smoke on Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train it's positively greasy. Jones pounds out blues phrases over Patitucci's walking bass, but DeJohnette's cymbals and snare snake ahead and behind tempo throughout; this is jazz, not R&B.
Paul Desmond's "Take Five might be the best-selling song in the history of jazz, but it's seldom recorded by other musicans. It's interesting, then, to hear this group perform it. Not surprisingly, DeJohnette has no trouble playing a five count; in fact, he absolutely eats the song alive, playing at times more in seven than five and consequently creating a polyrhythmic tension with Patitucci's meaty bass line. Meanwhile, Jones contributes one of his best solos on the sessionhe's rooted in the song's changes, but his offkilter phrasing and use of space create something new in a context we all know by heart. Exquisite.
But that's the magic here: not the power of the musicianship, but the fact that these players can say something new using songs like "Greensleeves, "Moanin', or "The Days of Wine and Roses. Of course, that's really the essence of jazzand Hank Jones is, if nothing else, the quintessential jazzman. Long may he play.
Track Listing: S'Wonderful; Sweet Lorraine; Moanin'; The Days of Wine and Roses; Take Five; I Surrender Dear; Night Train; Lover Come Back to Me; Greensleeves.
Personnel: Hank Jones: piano; Jack DeJohnette: drums; John Patitucci: bass
Record Label: Columbia Records