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Jeb Patton: New Strides

Dan McClenaghan By

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MAXJAZZ's ongoing Piano Series has featured some very heavy hitters in the keyboard arena: Mulgrew Miller, Geoffrey Keezer, Eric Reed, Denny Zeitlin and the inimitable Jessica Williams. Add Jeb Patton to the group, a young piano man that holds his own in marvelous company with the release of New Strides.

He doesn't play Jerome Kern's time-tested standard, "I'm Old Fashioned" on this set, but it could be his theme song. Patton and his trio-mates—drummer Pete Van Nostrand and bassist Peter Wong—play very much in the pre-Bill Evans Trio tradition, with the sidemen in a supportive, rather than interactive, role that is nevertheless solid and spirited. It's a style that's somewhat out of fashion, perhaps—Bill Evans changed things—but it is still a viable and vibrant approach in the hands of the masters, old and, like Patton and company, young. Swing will never go out of fashion; this trio has it good, and that ain't bad.

The set leans to the sunny and upbeat side of the piano trio sound, with a sizzling take on Lerner and Lowe's "If Ever I Would Leave You," the time-tested "My Ideal," and a light-stepping take on Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing."

Patton is a fine tunesmith, contributing three of his own first-rate compositions to the set: a fluid mid-tempo "The Music Goes On"; a bouncy, bluesy tribute to one of his idols, Sir Roland Hanna, with "Sir Roland"; and the jaunty "Street Song," featuring legendary drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath.

Tootie's brother, Jimmy Heath, contributes the composition "Cloak and Dagger," with Tootie again sitting in on drums. On Harold Arlen's "Last Night When We Were Young," both Heath brothers join the pianist, with Jimmy sounding reflective on his soprano in front of Patton's crisp, spare accompaniment.

New Stride is a lively and excellent addition to the Piano Series.

Track Listing: Billy; My Ideal; The Music Goes On; Sir Roland; If Ever I Would Leave You; Last Night When We Were Young; Cloak and Dagger; Estate; Street Song; Dream Dancing.

Personnel: Jeb Patton: piano; David Wong: bass; Pete Van Nostrand: drums; Albert "Tootie" Heath: drums (4, 7, 8); Jimmy Heath: soprano saxophone (6).

Title: New Strides | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: MAXJAZZ

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