Pianist Mike Jones is throwback musician. His music is a vestige of a time when stride and swing piano co-existed in jazz. This record made at Steinway Hall in 1997 is about a man, just one solitary man working through some classic tunes. Played any other way, making this a duo, trio, or quartet record would conceal his massive chops. Jones’ talent at the two-handed approach calls to mind Teddy Wilson, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, and of course Art Tatum. He chooses Sammy Kahn, Rodgers & Hart and Oscar Peterson as examples of songsmiths that have made an everlasting impression on the collective musical memory of America. I might not be able to recall what Broadway show many of these hits came from, but I can pick out “These Foolish Things” or “Once In A While” after just a few notes. Jones doesn’t practice the popular deconstruction of music as much as he constructs his solos piling technique on technique. From the jaw dropping two-fisted speed version of “I Want To Be Happy” to his simply emotive ballad work, he is a pianist’s pianist.
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