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Highlights In Jazz Features I Love A Piano at the Tribeca Arts Center

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Jack Kleinsinger, Eric Reed, Cyrus Chestnut, Junior Mance, Barbara Carroll
Highlights In Jazz: I Love A Piano
Tribeca Arts Center
New York, NY
May 2006

Jack Kleinsinger devoted a recent evening's concert to the piano and three performers, with different styles, who each explored what a piano can do.
The evening took off with pianist Eric Reed subbing for an ailing Cyrus Chestnut, with Gerald Cannon on bass, and Willie Jones III on drums. Reed began with a high-spirited version of George Gershwin's "Love Walked In, followed by Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk. The latter featured a well-delivered bass solo by Cannon and lots of piano runs by Reed. Jones' drums started off "Caravan and were featured throughout the song. Reed's solo performance of "You Took Advantage Of Me showed off a Tatum-like approach. The group finished with a fast-paced version of Ray Noble's "Cherokee, which gave Jones a good chance to stretch out. The trio worked as a tight unit, with Jones supplying a steady drumming engine, Cannon providing a wonderfully solid bass, and Reed displaying his delightful technique.

Following Reed, Junior Mance sat down at the piano and, all by himself, offered the next segment of the evening's explorations. His material included the traditional "Work Song, (also known as "Chain Gang ) performed with a gospel feel, followed by a sensitive reading of "Georgia On My Mind , and an up-tempo blues. Closing with Ellington's A Single Petal of a Rose, Mance captured the audience. It is a difficult task to perform solo piano, but Mance was up to the task and carried it off well.

The evening's last pianist was Barbara Carroll, aided by Jay Leonhart on bass and Joe Ascione on drums. "You And The Night And The Music opened her segment, featuring changing time signatures. It was followed by a soft reading of "My Funny Valentine. Next, "As Long As I Live featured Carroll's vocals accompanied by bass and drums for the first chorus, a piano solo, and Leonhart singing along with his bass solo. Carroll then chose to salute the late pianist Bill Evans with her rendition of "Waltz For Debby. She followed Evans' tune with "Too Soon, a waltz which she wrote in memory of Evans.

Another vocal number, "I Can't Get Started With You, was next. In the middle the song, trumpeter Randy Sandke walked on stage playing a la Bix Beiderbecke, the legedary cornetist who had the original hit recording of this song. "Billie's Bounce had Sandke taking the first solo, and Carroll the second, followed by a period of fun trading between piano and trumpet. The set ended appropriately with Stephen Sondheim's "Old Friends, where everyone had their say, with Joe Ascione showcasing some of his drumming magic. Carroll delivered her usual straight-ahead piano, paying close attention to the melody, using her vocals to highlight the lyrical material. Carroll has a small voice that is suited to her choice of songs. Many of her fans were in attendance and their appreciation was felt, long and loud.

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