Pianist Mike Jones has got a really sweet deal going. He is the opening act for the Penn and Teller Las Vegas Show. He is also now the heir apparent to the late pianist Gene Harris
' commanding style of two-handed keyboard barrel housing. Harris was a master of propulsive and deliberate piano playing. He had all the firepower needed to make whatever he played: ballads, blues, jump tunes, up-tempo, no matter, when Gene Harris played something, you knew it was Gene Harris. Jones possesses this same skillfulness at the keyboard, what Harris once called being, ..."a blues player with chops.
Another pianist Jones draws from is Red Garland
whose expertise with block chords was always impressive. Jones easily navigates a block chord melody, making the keys sound like an entire orchestra. All of these characteristics are in evidence on Plays Well With Others
, Jones' follow-up to 2002's Stretching Out
Jones' repertoire is eclectic while orbiting that of Ralph Sutton and Dick Hyman. He possesses a great stride boogie- woogie left-hand and a right one that knows no fear. Jones kicks the disc off with a vigorous "Besame Mucho," where he employs his block chords like mallets on the keys. The rhythm section of bassist Mike Gurrola
and drummer Jeff Hamilton
are equally locked in to Jones' fundamental groove.
Standards "September Song," "I'm Old Fashioned" and "I Thought About You" have a beautiful aural sepia tone that contrasts well the solid, "It's A Wonderful World" and "Detour Ahead." These songs are Jones' bread and butter and he turns them into concert pieces in this trio. But it is the blues that Jones has a supreme handle on, just like Gene Harris before him. Jones' two originals: "Box Viewing Blues" and "Obscuro Blues" are rollicking rides in a fast car.