On Live At The Village Vanguard, Cole Porter’s “In The Still Of The Night” charges straight ahead with the zip, the zig, and the zag of a hound dog chasing a rabbit through open sagebrush. While Bruce Barth is totally unpredictable in places, he is sure to bring back the familiar melody to us before we get lost. His melodies are pretty, but what captures the listener’s ear is the pianist’s spontaneous approach to improvised adventure.
Four originals emphasize melody. Barth’s “Prospect Avenue Blues,” however, gets down and dirty with a genuine mood. All the same, embellished melody and steady meter can become tiresome when used for too long a time. Fortunately, the leader called in reinforcements during his Village Vanguard performances last year. With Monk to the rescue, Barth perks up his session with a rollicking “San Francisco Holiday,” a dark, solo piano sojourn through “Evidence,” and a medium tempo blues walk through “Let’s Call This.” Monk provides the ammunition to make any performance sizzle and swing. Ugonna Okegwo and Al Foster, who accompany with faithful support, contribute heartily. While the pianist’s Village Vanguard session brought cheers those two August nights, it stands marred by the unfair ratio of too little adventure to middle-of-the-road, laid-back rambling.
Little Ditty; Star Eyes; In the Still of the Night; Song for Alex; San Francisco Holiday;
Bruce Barth- piano; Ugonna Okegwo- bass; Al Foster- drums.
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