Pianist Ernest Turner
could have gone after the Great American SongbookCole Porter, George Gershwin, Lerner and Loewea repertoire he has learned well. Instead, on My Americana
, he turns toward the sounds that reflect how he grew up, music taken from the African-American experience, with tunes from Thelonious Monk
, Kenny Kirkland
, Stevie Wonder
and Fats Waller
, along with songs from the spiritual traditions, and three of his own strong originals.
Turner opens with his own "Return of Thanos," sounding as prickly as pianist Matthew Shipp
, with a playful tint, in a nod to the villain of Marvel's Avengers
movies. Kenny Kirkland's "Dienda" is slowed to a rapturous crawl, and "Monk's Dream" sparkles and pops, with interactive trio matesbassist Lance Scott and drummer Jon Currylaying down a relentless momentum.
Stepping over into the pop realm, the trio performs a gorgeous take on "If It's Magic," from Stevie Wonder's masterpiece, Songs In the Key of Life
(Tamla, 1976), a follow-up to a brilliant re-imaging of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin.'"
The covers represent a broad time span, but the musicians position them all in the new millennium. Turner brings laid-back beauty to a solo rendition of "Precious Lord," originated by "The Father Of Black Gospel Music," Thomas A. Dorsey. The trio then wrap up the show with a Turner original, the sizzling post-bop, Herbie Hancock
-ish romp, "In Or Out," followed by a stop at the church house, with the familiar "We Shall Overcome," presented with an optimistic glow to go with the traditional resolve of the song.
Return Of Thanos; Dienda; Monk's Dream; Ain't Misbehavin'; If It's Magic; Circles; Precious Lord; In Or Out; We Shall Overcome.
Ernest Turner: piano; Lance Scott, Jr.: bass; Jon Curry: drums.