While the Rogers and Hammerstein musical The King and I has long been a rich melodic source for improvisers, it's unusual for its songs to be gathered together on one CD. Here, the Ted Rosenthal Trio gives new life to that ageless material.
Although based in Japan, Venus Records is known for assembling crack US jazz trios, and this is one of the best. For this outing Rosenthal, a reliably elegant and expressive pianist, is joined by the always lyrical bassist George Mraz and first-call drummer Lewis Nash. Their approach to these classics is both respectful and creative.
It's difficult to isolate highlights at this level of excellence, but favorites include the transformation of "I Whistle a Happy Tune" into a '50s rock/stroll, and the tongue-in-cheek take on "March of the Siamese Children," in which the trio becomes a jazzy marching band. They bring out the pensive beauty of "We Kiss in a Shadow" and "Something Wonderful," and swing so hard on "Getting to Know You" that they remove years of saccharine from that song.
All told, this is a beautiful, tasteful, thoroughly engaging sessionit's essential for fans of the show, and highly recommended for those who enjoy jazz trio playing at its best.
Track Listing: My Lord and Master, Shall We Dance?, I Have Dreamed, I Whistle a Happy Tune, We Kiss in a Shadow, Getting to Know You, Something Wonderful, March of the Siamese Children, Hello, Young Lovers
Personnel: Ted Rosenthal: piano; George Mraz: bass; Lewis Nash: drums
Author of "The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the myth of the mad genius," Dr. J combines her love of jazz and her fascination with psychology, focusing on where they overlap: in celebrating the individual spirit.