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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell: Monk's Cha Cha

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Pianist Bill O'Connell has long been valued for his blazing Latin chops, enlivening bands lead by flutist Dave Valentin and legendary conguero Mongo Santamaria as a sideman and delivering his own burning leader dates on a variety of respected imprints in recent times--Zoho, Challenge, and Savant, to name just three. He's been a steady though occasionally under-documented force in the music for decades, putting his dependable pianistic stamp on many absorbing projects, but he's never delved deeply into the art ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell and the Latin Jazz All-Stars: Heart Beat

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Veteran New York Pianist/composer and arranger Bill O'Connell, early on developed a reputation in the post-bop/hard-bop area but, since then, is best recognized as one of the finest musicians and long-time proponents within the Latin Jazz genre. With decades as a performer and a host of albums to his credit, O'Connell presents his fourth release for the Savant label on the stellar Heart Beat where the pianist offers an exciting repertoire of seven originals and two covers of modern Latin ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Slagle & Bill O'Connell: The Power Of Two

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The initial impetus behind the creation of this recording was the passing of Kenny Drew Jr., an exceptional and underappreciated pianist who saxophonist Steve Slagle worked with, both in the Mingus Big Band and on one of his own leader dates--Reincarnation (SteepleChase, 1994). On the day his friend passed, Slagle penned “KD JR.," later sending it to Bill O'Connell, another of his piano-playing colleagues. That got the ball rolling for this, the first duo date in Slagle's discography.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell: Imagine

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Bill O'Connell's version of the standard “Willow Weep For Me" is one of those rare items: playing totally against type as a Latin burner with that classic, mesmerizing two-chord piano vamp, the only thing missing would be someone actually trying to sing this lament amidst the happy sprawl of players and arrangement O'Connell's dished up. Unlike other gestures into Latin-land that sprout from tune to tune with other jazz musicians, what makes Imagine notable is the combination of writing with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell + The Latin Jazz All-Stars: Zócalo

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Latin jazz piano dynamo Bill O'Connell found a parallel between this gathering and Zócalo, the main plaza situated in the center of Mexico City; that square has long been a place where people meet to connect, celebrate and join together as one, and the same sense of togetherness and unity associated with that spot surrounds this recording. O'Connell and his simpatico sextet mates sizzle, swoon and soar as they explore the art of creation through communication. Sometimes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell: Triple Play Plus Three

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Pianist Bill O'Connell's Triple Play (Savant, 2008) turned traditional notions of piano trio instrumentation on their head, and this album is a logical outgrowth and expansion of that particular project. While that outing had a consistent three man line-up that married O'Connell's piano with conga drummer/percussionist Richie Flores' engaging rhythm work and the fine flute playing of Dave Valentin, Triple Play Plus Three uses Valentin's spot as a revolving hot seat. The flautist returns for three numbers, including a mellow ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell: Rhapsody in Blue

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Don't let the title, Rhapsody in Blue, fool you. Pianist Bill O'Connell isn't doing an album-length tribute to Gershwin. The title song is just one of three covers in this ten-track set; he rest are O'Connell originals. “Monk's Cha-Cha" features alto saxophonist Steve Slagle. Dave Samuels follows O'Connell with a solo. Bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Steve Berrios and conguero Richie Flores carry the mood of this piece. After the middle solos, Slagle again takes point, while Flores mixes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell: Rhapsody In Blue

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Internationally recognized composer/pianist Bill O'Connell has long been associated with Latin jazz, having established and cemented his reputation in the genre with past recordings like Black Sand (Random Chance, 2001) and Latin Jazz Fantasy (Random Chance, 2004). However the classically trained O'Connell is also well adept at playing other forms of jazz, including hard bop and mainstream--which, he does so well on Rhapsody In Blue. Naturally, O'Connell infuses this recording with a good measure of deep Latin grooves on several ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill O'Connell: Rhapsody In Blue

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Pianist Bill O'Connell has a varied career as a musician. After studying classical music he found inspiration in jazz and salsa. He shaped his instincts for the latter with Mongo Santamaria with whom he played for two years. From there he gravitated to Sonny Rollins and Chet Baker. This wide spectrum served to expand his skills and his approach to the piano. He is as adept at hard bop and mainstream jazz as he is in Latin jazz even though ...


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