' pianistic style was born out of a fusing of Harlem stride piano with the virtuoso approach of Art Tatum and the harmonic daring of bebop. Jones played with just about everyone in a long and illustrious career but remained modest concerning his musical achievements. When French journalist Francis Marmande, interviewing him in 2010, suggested that he was a giant of jazz, Jones begged to differ, describing himself rather as "a dwarf in the service of the music." Marmande pointed out that he had nonetheless played with Charlie Parker
, "the greatest improviser of all time." That was surely something. Jones reflected for a moment, then said Parker was "animated by ideas that were so logical, so coherent, that it was child's play to enter into his harmonic universe and simply an immense pleasure to play with him."
Only rarely would Jones discuss his most famous gig, accompanying Marilyn Monroe, on May 19 1962 as she sang "Happy Birthday, Mr President" to John F. Kennedy. Music was what mattered to him, not showbiz. "When you listen to a pianist, each note should have an identity, each note should have a soul of its own," Jones said.
This quiet, self-effacing artist was at his best in small, intimate jazz clubs like Slukefter in Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, where this hitherto unreleased 1983 session was recorded. It's a relaxed, swinging set with Jones accompanied by local bassist Mads Vinding and West Coast drummer Shelly Manne. Jones revisits his bebop days with "Au Privave" and "Scrapple From The Apple" by Charlie Parker and "Budo" by Bud Powell
. Then, from the hard bop era that followed, comes Benny Golson
's "Stablemates." The rest are standards, including a version of Johnny Mercer's "Tangerine" on which the usually oh-so-tasteful drumming by Manne becomes a little intrusive on occasion.
Hank Jones disliked all categorization in music. Even the terms "jazz" and "bebop" were, he said, "degrading and destructive." He died at the age of 91 in 2010. The gently swinging, timeless elegance of his music is his memorial, no categories needed.