Various Artists: Memphis Piano Convention
Newborn's bright, bluesy, fluent, and florid style can be said to be in evidence in almost every one of these performances, yet each pianist clearly remains his own man. Because they are not as widely recorded or known as the others, Thomas and Wilson are pleasant surprises here. Wilson devoted himself to teaching, first at Memphis State and then a Virginia Commonwealth, and Thomas was a mainstay in Memphis clubs. Wilson's performance of of "Sonatine" by Ravel demonstrates the affinity between that composer and modern jazz players.
Williams' eloquent liner notes mention an honor roll of pianists' names in passing, from Ahmad Jamal (hear Donald Brown's version of "Poinciana") to Ellington (hear Thomas's "What Am I Here For?"). There's a buoyant sense of celebration of jazz piano in all its forms on this disc. The recording is not easy to locate, but well worth the trouble. And after you find it, you can start looking for Memphis Convention, with the same pianists and reed and horn players and a rhythm section. Memphis should be famous for more than Elvis.
Track Listing: Poinciana; What Am I Here For?, Sonatine (Minuet), Sweet Lorraine, The Second Time Around, Little Niles," Just As I Am, Dancing on the Ceiling, The Sphinx, For Carl
Record Label: DIW