Pianist/composer A Bu
, whose given name is Dai Liang, has outgrown the "child prodigy" tag but not the attributes. A student at Central Conservatory in Beijing, and later at Juilliard, he was influenced by a meaningful meeting with Chick Corea
at the age of thirteen. Corea performed in Shanghai, where he invited A Bu onto the stage to play an improvised duet. The Beijing native released his first album, 88 Tones of Black and White
(Sennheiser Media, 2015), at the age of sixteen. In 2020 A Bu issued his first solo album, Live At Beijing Poly Theater
(Self Produced), and he now teams with bassist Larry Grenadier
and drummer Eric Harland
for One Step East
As the title implies, the album is meant to represent a melding of Eastern and Western influences, most clearly heard on the hard-bop title track, but more often, it's a philosophical approach. A Bu covers several standards referencing the Keith Jarrett
Trio repertoire with "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "Somewhere." The best of the pianist's cover work is a languid, bluesy reading of Charles Mingus
' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" and a fresh interpretation of John Lennon
's "Jealous Guy." Grenadier and Harland bring a lively, sophisticated feeling to "Waltz in Minor" and the bassist's duo with A Bu on "Ballade 2" is a highlight of the album. The trio is superb in their version of a popular Chinese rock song, "The Lost Season," a reflective and elegant piece that brings to mind the Bill Evans
A Bu won first prize in the Montreux Jazz Solo Piano Competition in 2015. Now, only in his early twenties, he is well on his way to developing a personal style. As a musician he has demonstrated remarkable maturity and talent, sharing stages with Herbie Hancock
, Wayne Shorter
, Igor Butman
, Brian Blade
, and many others. It is a long haul for a Chinese artist to leave his or her mark on the Western jazz markets, but with each A Bu release, it becomes inevitable that the pianist will make his name in the wider jazz world.
Someday My Prince Will Come; One Step East; Somewhere; Jealous Guy; Prelude XIX; The Lost Season; Oriental Interlude; Ballade; Waltz in Waltz; Ballade 2; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.
A Bu: Piano.