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Dan Cray: Who Cares (2002)

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For those of you with a tendency to judge a CD by its cover, this one can fool you. Young pianist Dan Cray in a slouching wall lean, a downcast expression, a grim set to his mouth. The fellow looks every bit the picture of timidity and dejection. How's a guy like that going to pull off one of the toughest jazz tricks: the piano/bass/drums affair. (and o.k., they were trying, successfully, to evoke the mood of the CDs title).

But if you get ready for a diffident, maybe maudlin musical experience, get ready to change gears: from the first note of Charlie Parker's "Segment", this debut effort is a lively, upbeat affair, infused with a youthful zest, first-rate musicianship and rhythmic joy.

A bunch of standards: "Segment"; a jaunty "It Could Happen to You" (Burke-Van Heusen); a hard-marching "Old Devil Moon"; Gershwin's (every jazz CD should have one) "Who Cares", at a racing tempo; and one Cray original, a light-stepping "Patiently Waiting".

This must be a working band. The trio-mates bounce off of each other with an easy, empathic grace. And pay special attention to drummer Wyser-Pratte. He works the high end—snare drum/cymbals—with a zingy, easy zeal that drives things forward, keeps them a bit on edge.

A beautiful, auspicious debut from a talented young piano man.

Visit Dan Cray on the web at www.dancray.com .

Track Listing: Segment, It Could Happen to You, Patiently, Waiting, Elsa, Old Devil Moon, I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face, Who Cares, I Cover the Waterfront

Personnel: Dan Cray, piano; Clark Sommers, bass; Greg Wyser-Pratte, drums

Record Label: Cray Sounds

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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