Ernest Turner: My Americana

Dan McClenaghan BY

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Ernest Turner: My Americana
Pianist Ernest Turner could have gone after the Great American Songbook—Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Lerner and Loewe—a 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 mates—bassist Lance Scott and drummer Jon Curry—laying 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.

Track Listing

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.

Album information

Title: My Americana | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

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