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This follow-up to 1997’s The Classic Trio features the same lineup: David Hazeltine on piano, Peter Washington on bass, and Louis Hayes on drums. Like its predecessor, Volume II includes a mix of standards and originals. Hazeltine is at his best on the standards, exhibiting a command that allows him to quote "52nd Street Theme" in the midst of "Bewitched," and "Bemsha Swing" during the set closer, a go-for-broke "What a Difference a Day Makes." He displays harmonic ingenuity throughout "Days of Wine and Roses" and recasts Burt Bacharach’s "What the World Needs Now" in colors darker and more haunting than the original. The sparks don’t fly quite as much on "Prelude to a Kiss," although the Ellington classic sounds beautiful in these capable hands.
Hazeltine writes tunes that sound like standards. He opens the album with his bright and energetic "Face to Face," explores minor modal sonorities on "From Here to There," and mellows out with the bossa "Too Sweet to Bear." These pieces are solid, but they don’t rise to the creative level of the bop line that Hazeltine writes on the blues, titled "Pete’s Sake" in honor of his bassist, who doubles the line with him going in.
Like his fellow pianist Bill Charlap, Hazeltine is as straight-ahead as they come. He’s the kind of player who recoups in knowledge and finesse what he lacks in individuality. Peter Washington has a wealth of experience backing straight-ahead pianists, Charlap among them, and his youthful wisdom reverberates throughout this session. Louis Hayes, one of hard bop’s rhythm section legends, makes every track swing.
Track Listing: 1. Face to Face 2. What the World Needs Now 3. From Here to There 4. Days of Wine and Roses 5. Too Sweet to Bear 6. Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered 7. Prelude to a Kiss 8. Pete
Personnel: David Hazeltine, piano; Peter Washington, bass; Louis Hayes, drums