Pianist Oliver Jones has become something of a national treasure on the Canadian jazz scene over the past three decades. That's all the more remarkable considering the fact that this soon-to-be eighty year old didn't start making jazz recordings until he was in his 50s.
In many respects, as his recording career has evolved, Jones has become the poster boy for the Justin Time imprint; he's released about twenty records on this label over the past thirty years and, though most of those recordings have put his Oscar Peterson-esque chops and pianistic savoir-faire on display, none really tread over the exact same ground. Sure, he often favors the piano trio format, but he isn't averse to trying something different. He demonstrated that openness on Pleased To Meet You (Justin Time, 2009), a four-handed piano feast pairing him with the late, great Hank Jones, and it serves him well here; Just For My Lady finds Jones at the head of a fine foursomea piano trio augmented by violinist Josee Aidans.
The mechanics, mannerisms, and musical choices Jones makes on Just For My Lady are par for the course he's set for himself in the past, but fairly predictable pathways can still lead to pretty damn good destinations. He has a surprise or two in store for the ears, like the brief foray into swing territory on "The Windmills Of Your Mind," but those surprises are rare. In the end, when it comes to a player like Jones, the unexpected turns just don't matter that much. When he plays, every turn of a phrase and tickle of a key touch the soul, and few can make a piano sparkle through the speakers like Jones does..
Blues, ballads and straight-up swingers surface during this twelve song affair. Aidans takes the lead role on the bookendsher Jones-penned namesake tune at the top of the program ("Josee's Blues") and a lovely-to-lively Gershwin number ("Lady Be Good") at the bottombut she isn't always the center of attention; bassist Eric Lagace uses his bow in the service of beauty and keeps things moving along in livelier places; drummer Jim Doxas powers the group and provides gentle percussive coloration in softer environs; and Jones gets plenty of opportunities to let loose on the 88s.
Just For My Lady isn't more of the same from Jones, but it is another sterling set from one of the most accomplished pianists north of the 49th parallel.
Josee's Blues; You Look Good To Me; Lights Of Burgundy; The Angel And Mr. Jones; The Saskatchewan Suite: Prince Albert Sunrise, Regina Sky, Saskatoon Spirit; Just For My Lady; In The Key Of Geoff; When Summer Comes; The Windmills Of Your Mind; Lady Be Good.
Oliver Jones: piano; Josee Aidans: violin; Eric Lagace: bass; Jim Doxas: drums.
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