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This could be an uncommonly brief review. After acknowledging that Canadian Oliver Jones is one of the most consistently inventive and technically awesome mainstream Jazz pianists on the planet, one who is at the absolute pinnacle of his typically hard–swinging creative powers on this newly released two–disc concert date from Justin Time, there’s not a whole lot more to say. Even while laboring always beneath the immense shadow of fellow countryman and alter–ego Oscar Peterson, Jones has managed to transcend gratuitous comparisons and earn his place in the sun. Yes, his buoyant cadences and breakneck runs often sound as though they’d been borrowed from Oscar’s immaculate wardrobe — but as I would rank Peterson without hesitation among the top five greatest Jazz pianists who ever lived, I have no problem whatsoever with that. Both Jones and Peterson give me enormous pleasure; both leave me smiling and shaking my head in wonder at their breathtaking prowess, and that’s all that matters. I find the fact that one Canadian city (Montréal) has produced not one but two Jazz pianists of their stature mind–boggling (Peterson was born there in 1925, Jones nine years later). I don’t know from what wellspring they draw their unflagging inspiration (although the ghost of Art Tatum must be hovering neaby), but wish I owned a piece of it. As for the sidemen, while neither bassist Young nor drummer Villeneuve has the name recognition of a Ray Brown or an Ed Thigpen, they are no less sure–handed or reliable because of it, and give Jones as much support as he requires. Like Peterson, Jones prefers the standard repertoire, straying from it only occasionally, and even when he does the bond with Oscar remains strong, as his original composition “Something for Chuck,” on disc 1, was inscribed for Peterson’s older brother, and “Place St. Henri,” which closes that session, was written by Oscar. The departures on disc 2 include “Odalisque,” by pianist Lorraine Desmarais; “La Quigea,” by drummer Villeneuve; and the traditional Australian folk song, “Waltzing Matilda.” There’s one Jazz standard on each generously timed disc, Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” (disc 1) and Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo” (disc 2). Jones ends the program with a Gershwin medley, the last component of which describes perfectly his wondrous musical persona — “I Got Rhythm.” You the man, Oliver.
Track listing: Disc 1 — Falling in Love with Love; Lover Man; Just in Time; Up Jumped Spring; Little Girl Blue; Well You Needn’t; Something for Chuck; Someone to Watch Over Me; Place St–Henri (70:18). Disc 2 — I Love You; Odalisque; Green Dolphin Street; Willow Weep for Me; Waltzing Matilda; La Quigea; Mean to Me; Oleo; The Things We Did Last Summer; Gershwin Medley: Rhapsody in Blue; I Loves You Porgy; Bess You Is My Woman; It Ain’t Necessarily So; Summertime; The Man I Love; Embraceable You; I Got Rhythm (64:08).
Oliver Jones, piano; Dave Young, bass; Norman Marshall Villeneuve, drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.