Pianist Larry Ham's first release as a leader, Carousel (West Village Music, 2007) is notable not only for the quality of the trio's performance but also for Ham's compositions. In 2008 Ham released a fine solo recording, Larry Ham, Just Me, Just You... for Arbors Records. These two CDs suggest that Ham is an extraordinarily accomplished jazz musician who will likely be an influential presence on the mainstream jazz scene for years to come.
In addition to seven Ham originals, Carousel includes five standards. All three musicians, Ham, Lee Hudson (bass), and Tom Melito (drums) are savvy, subtle players who have been playing together for well over a decade. All three are also mainstays in the New York City jazz scene who are beginning to make their mark in the greater world.
The recording opens with a restrained and assured version of "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise." What is notable is the swing feel and cohesion of the trio. Ham stretches out a bit more on the title track, an upbeat, graceful melody that glides above the relaxed interaction of Hudson and Melito. The pianist/composer's emotional range is evident in the contrast between the title track and his original "The Big Balloon." This pensive, moody piece suggests that Ham has studied his Bill Evans and then some.
One of the highlights of this delightful session is the precision and passion of the musicians on another Ham composition "Lullaby." The quicksilver pair of Melito and Ham spark their way through this Latin-tinged melody with Hudson holding the spirited performance together. These are three excellent players having a great time with the music. In short, Carousel is a highly recommended session from a trio that'll hopefully find its way into the studio in the near future.
Track Listing: Softly As In A Morning Sunrise; Carousel; The Big Balloon; Lullaby; What A Difference A Day Made; Lee Rides Again; Where is Linda Now?; All God's Chillun Got Rhythm; Easy Living; Brazilian Coffee; A Fond Farewell; My Funny Valentine.
Personnel: Larry Ham: piano; Lee Hudson: bass; Tom Melito: drums.
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!