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Mike Longo Trio: Sting Like A Bee (2009)

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Mike Longo Trio: Sting Like A Bee How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Pianist Mike Longo has a couple of things in common with legendary heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali: first, they both employed the same phrase throughout their careers—"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee"—and second,, they both deliver quite a punch, Ali with his fists and Longo on the keys. Sting Like a Bee—dedicated to Longo's father, who passed away in 2009—is Longo's follow-up to Float Like a Butterfly (Consolidated Artist Productions, 2007) and does not pull any punches, providing quite a musical wallop. Along with bassist Bob Cranshaw
Bob Cranshaw
Bob Cranshaw
b.1932
bass
and drummer Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
b.1958
drums
, the trio provides tasteful improvisational jazz, recorded live in the studio with primarily first takes and only one rehearsal. That Longo and his band mates have never performed as a trio before makes Sting Like a Bee all the more amazing.

Longo played with Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
, where he evolved a playing style owing primarily to Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
, his mentor and teacher. He pays homage to Peterson here by including "West Side Story Medley," in tribute the late pianist's West Side Story (Verve, 1962), ending the program with a tribute to Gillespie on a dark rendition of the trumpeter's "Kush." Though claiming Peterson as the main influence in his career, Longo chose not to feature any of the master's compositions for this project. Instead, the dozen-tune repertoire features several originals among a mix of covers from luminaries such as Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, Cole Porter
Cole Porter
Cole Porter
1891 - 1964
composer/conductor
and Kurt Weill.

Longo's fine selection opens up with a vibrant rendition of Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
's "Speak No Evil," adding a modern touch to the melody. Performing a slow motion walk on the keys, Longo plays Shorter's balladic "Dance Cadaverous" with a measure of feeling, engaging with Cranshaw's bass and Nash's steady cymbal accents. Porter's "Love for Sale," though remaining true to the melody and treated with respect, tends to overextend in length, clocking in at nine-plus minutes. There is an especially lively read of Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
1930 - 1956
trumpet
's classic "Daahoud," where the pianist and Nash trade broadsides just like Brown and drummer Max Roach
Max Roach
Max Roach
1925 - 2007
drums
did in their historic collaboration, Clifford Brown & Max Roach (EmArcy, 1955).

Longo explores a bit of Latin jazz by providing some heat on one of Clare Fischer's signature tunes, "Morning," featuring Nash's percussive prowess along with an infectious Latin rhythm. In quiet contrast, Longo changes direction and mellows out with the oft-recorded Weill cover, "Speak Low," performed as a slow ballad—tender and sweet. Among the originals on the disc, "Someone to Love" and "Checked Bags," both ballad-like slow burners, round out the album's light jazz theme. Longo pulls together one very fine album with Sting Like a Bee,offering sparks of brilliance and plenty of honey; that's the real buzz on this album.


Track Listing: Speak No Evil; Love For Sale; Daahoud; Tell Me A Bedtime Story; Someone to Love; Westside Story Medley; Dance Cadaverous; Morning; Speak Low; Bird Seed; Checked Bags; Kush.

Personnel: Mike Longo: piano; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Lewis Nash.

Record Label: Consolidated Artists Productions

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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