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Beautiful music, beautifully recorded and played. Pianist Kenny Drew Jr.'s love for and debt to his late father are apparent with almost every note he plays on Passionata, the title selection of which was drawn from a sketchy outline that young Kenny found in his father's desk after Drew Sr. passed away in 1993. This is basically Kenny's trio augmented on four tracks ("Dark Beauty," "Serenity," "Evening in the Park," the reprise of "Passionata" that closes the session) by a string section conducted by Bob Belden. Washington is a sure-fingered and reliable bassist, and Nash is one of my favorite drummers, especially in a back-up role, as he never seeks to upstage the leader but instead rests comfortably in the shadows while lending resolute support whenever and wherever it is needed. Much of what is presented here is subdued; Drew mounts an all-out two-fisted assault only on "Hush-a-Bye" and Gershwin's "Summertime" (on which Nash also solos briefly). Four of the selections ("Dark Beauty," "Dedication," "Serenity," "Evening in the Park") were written by Drew Sr., and "Passionata" is at least partly his. "Evening in the Park," inspired by Drew Sr.'s evening strolls through a park in Copenhagen, where he spent many of his most productive years, bustles along in a walkin' groove on which the strings don't unduly intrude. "Passionata," part ballad, part bossa, includes faint echoes of Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are," while "Serenity" hints at the standard "Day by Day." Like his father before him, Kenny Drew Jr. is a marvelous pianist, and this earnest tribute would have made Drew Sr. proud and happy. If you appreciate lovely music that is warm, introspective and, yes, passionate, this one's for you.
Track listing: Passionata; Hush-a-Bye; Dark Beauty; Dedication; When You Wish Upon a Star; Serenity; Summertime; It Might As Well Be Spring; Evening in the Park; Passionata (57:33).
Kenny Drew Jr., piano; Peter Washington, bass; Lewis Nash, drums.