While jazz is a social music through and through, solitude has always spurred creation too. And in the age of COVID-19, when safety often stands in the way of musical gatherings, solo efforts seem to be the way to go.
For pianist Mike Jones, the idea of playing solo piano is far from a stretch. Jones first drew serious attention for his Dave McKenna
-inspired, "three-handed" feats on a series of solo efforts for the Chiaroscuro label starting in the '90s. Trio work, his high profile gig as pianist and Music Director for the legendary Penn & Teller, and offshoots from that steady engagementlike a duo album with Penn Jillette himself on basshave been Jones' primary focus for the better part of the past two decades. But a return to early form seemed to be written into this moment.
With Las Vegas' shows on hold, and Jones stuck at home like everybody else, he started recording solo piano videos for the Kawai-sponsored Mondays with Mike
series and his own YouTube channel and social media settings. The purpose? Nothing more than to maintain his own sanity, enjoy time with his instrument and entertain the idle masses. So with solo playing as a regular occurrence, his home instrument in good shape, and plenty of free time, the idea for this album came into being.
On All By Myself
, Jones presents a baker's dozen of beauties that document and highlight his flawless technique, swing and stride bona fides, and deep appreciation for golden age material. He opens with an upbeat "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else," closes with a comfortably paced "After You've Gone" that moves from brief rumination to rousing rhapsodizing, and charms and dazzles with every single design in between. Along the way, while roaring through "The Sheik of Araby," meditating on the meanings embedded and implied in the title track, jivin' and partying on "Lady Be Good," and relaxing with "Lazy," Jones' moves and gestures call to mind legends like McKenna, Oscar Peterson
and Art Tatum
, among others. But, as a product of the sum of his influences and his own steady developments over the decades, his sound remains his own.
Jones may typically be out of jazz sight, far removed from the music's meccas and the extreme attention those locales draw, but his music and skill set is never
out of mind. He remains one of the most thrilling artists on the piano map.
The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else; The
Sheik Of Araby; All by Myself; I'll See You In My
Dreams; It Had To
Be You; Chicago; Lady Be Good; Poor Butterfly;
Chinatown, My Chinatown; Back Home Again In
Linger Awhile; After You've Gone.