There's no doubt when the soft tapping of drums announces a beat as light as lovers dancing through a summer night. This is the signature of one of the greatest cover versions of all time. Or rather, this is the watermark of a cover made into a new composition. Pianist Ahmad Jamal's trio now virtually owns the tune "Poinciana" and the album it comes from, At the Pershing: But Not for Me (Chess, 1958), has become a classic in its own right.
What Jamal did with his legendary trio with drummer Vernel Fournier and bassist Israel Crosby was that he defined a sound. The featherweight sound of ethereal swing with an almost unseemly touch of elegance. Fortunately, this particular trio has many musical admirers, even as far away as Scandinavia, and Danish bassist Andreas Dreier has teamed up with Norwegian guitarist Bjørn Vidar Solli and Australian drummer Adam Pache to create a congenial tribute to Jamal's trio, appropriately titled Poinciana.
It's an organically swinging affair where the warm woody sound of Dreier's bass gently basks in the company of Pache's pleasant brushwork and light use of sticks and the crisp chord progressions of Vidar Solli. There's an air of formal elegance about the record, which is underlined by the musicians dressed in suits on the cover, but there's nothing stiff about the music that falls in love all over again with standards like "Lullaby of the Leaves," "Cherokee" and "My Ideal."
There's also room for two Thelonious Monk compositions, "Eronel" and "Ask Me Now," both surprisingly smooth considering how rough-edged Monk can be, but the highlight is the title track played with reverence and a secure sense of Jamal's aesthetic. It's a joy to hear Dreier's trio find magic in the musical treasures of the past and make them blossom in the moment.
Lullaby of the Leaves; Darn that Dream; It Could Happen; Charokee; My
Ideal; Eronel; The Best Thing for you is Me; Ask Me Now; Poinciana.
Andreas Dreier: bass; Bjørn Vidar Solli: guitar; Adam Pache: drums.
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