Billy Bean/Walter Norris/Hal Gaylor: The Trio Rediscovered
The trio on this album recorded twice for Riverside Records in 1961. The first session was reissued by the Fantasy Group in 1999. Now comes England-based String Jazz label releasing the second album, The Trio Rediscovered. Billy Bean is clearly the at the top of his form on this set. His harp like sound is clean and untrammeled with pings and other extraneous noises one often hears from those less expert on that instrument. The play list is a mix of originals by jazz performers of the day combined with standards by Porter, Gershwin, Strayhorn and Rodgers and Hart. In the playing of the original material, one hears elements of bop. In the case of Horace Silver's "Safari", written when he was with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, there's hard bop with a bit of the funk thrown in. In contrast the standards are played in a straight ahead fashion and "Porgy and Bess Medley" performed in a classical like vein. This track certainly is a highlight of the album and is not matched elsewhere on the set for its intensity. "Have You Met Miss Jones" out and out swings while "Lush Life" compares favorably with recordings by Joe Pass and Bucky Pizzarelli.
While Bean is the musical, if not the group, leader the other players are by no means insignificant. Quite the contrary, Walter Norris' piano comps mightily in support of Bean and shines on several solo opportunities as on "Motivation". It seems that Norris has permanently made his home in Germany. Our loss. Without drums, Gaylor's bass is alone in making sure matters stay on course when it comes to the beat, a responsibility he meets with ease.
This reissue is a fine addition to any jazz fan's collection and is recommended.
Track Listing: Motivation; Lush Life; All of You; Porgy & Bess Medley; Lands End; Have You Met Miss Jones; Grooveyard; Che-Low; Safari
Personnel: Billy Bean - Guitar; Walter Norris - Piano; Hal Gaylor - Bass
Record Label: String Jazz Recordings