If you want to hear what pianist Mike Longo enjoys, and how he thinks, you listen to his big band--The New York State Of The Art Jazz Ensemble--which is featured on Live From New York! (Consolidate Artists Productions, 2013); if you just want to hear Mike Longo, you listen to this trio. Step On It is the third go-round for this group, following Sting Like A Bee (Consolidated Artists Productions, 2009) and the trio-plus-guests To My Surprise (Consolidated Artists Productions, 2011). Both of those albums contain plenty of familiar songs, as does this standards-heavy date, so some ...read more
The fourth album by pianist Mike Longo's stalwart New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble is the first one recorded in front of an audience, in May 2013 at the New York City Baha'i Center's John Birks Gillespie Auditorium. On the one hand, Live from New York! offers the kind of spontaneity and high spirits a studio date seldom can; on the other, no less than three of its eight tracks are vocals, and their acceptance is a matter of personal opinion and taste. In this quarter, the sentiment is that there is far too much emoting by guest ...read more
When trumpet titan Dizzy Gillespie left this earth he left no shortage of disciples behind. His now-legendary peers (i.e. saxophonists Jimmy Heath and Benny Golson), a cadre of killer Cubans (Arturo Sandoval, multi-reedist Paquito D'Rivera, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, etc.) and a pride of young lions all worked with him, learned from him, and sang his praises, both before and after he departed; so did/does pianist Mike Longo, though too few people seem to recognize him. Part of the problem, as illustrated above, is that Longo never fit neatly into a category. He was too young to be ...read more
When is a trio not a trio? Well, when it's the Mike Longo Trio +2, which actually makes it a quintet. Such is the case on six of the dozen tracks on Longo's new CD, To My Surprise, which showcases not only the versatile pianist's core group (bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash), but also the impressive talents of trumpeter Jimmy Owens and tenor saxophonist Lance Bryant.What is apparent from the outset is that everyone is having a grand time. Even though clearly well-rehearsed (and well-recorded), the session has an engaging looseness about it, epitomizing the way ...read more
Though veteran jazz pianist Mike Longo has a long and distinguished career that includes a 25-year association with the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, To My Surprise documents only the second recording with his existing trio. This follow-up to his very successful Sting Like A Bee (Consolidated Artist Production, 2009), features the same lineup of bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash as the core trio, but a major difference is the inclusion of trumpet luminary Jimmy Owens and tenor saxophonist Lance Bryant on a half dozen tracks, hence the amended group title: Mike Longo Trio + 2.With an augmented ...read more
Sting Like A Bee is pianist Mike Longo's follow-up to his well-received Float Like A Butterfly (Consolidated Artists Productions, 2008). Bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash join him, and this CD is so laidback and relaxed that it comes as no surprise to read in the liner notes that there was no need to listen to any playbacks. This offering is a tribute to two mentors: Oscar Peterson, with whom he studied for a time as a private student, and Dizzy Gillespie, for whom he was music director on and off for nine years. As a ...read more
Mike Longo, who studied piano with Oscar Peterson and served for a number of years as Dizzy Gillespie's pianist and music director, brings that experience and more to Sting Like a Bee, the follow-up to his well-received trio session from 2007, Float Like a Butterfly (Consolidated Artists Productions). While there's a different backup crew this time, it would be hard to envision a more virtuosic or compatible duo than bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash. Playing with Longo for the first time after only one rehearsal, their symmetry is truly remarkable.
Among other delights, Longo salutes his mentor, Peterson, ...read more
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