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Tim Tobias' first album for his own Beachaus label combines two sessions. Tracks one through seven are live recordings from one of Chicago's jazz venues, Pops for Champagne. The last two bonus tracks were recorded in a studio. All but one of the tunes on the program are his. Irrespective of the recording location and the author of the music, this debut album is an exhilarating, sparkling 58 minutes of jazz music. Although he has been gone for more than 20 years, Bill Evans still casts his net of influence among contemporary pianists. His cool, lyrical way with music is reflected in Tobias' playing on such cuts as Charles Mingus' "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress. Then Silk Blue". To the Evans crispness, Tobias adds a smattering of blues notes a la Junior Mance and Les McCann. The Mingus cut is also the setting for some outstanding bass by Eric Hochberg. For those familiar with the Chicago jazz scene, they know Hochberg is one of the Windy City's first call bass players. Tobias' works are ear catching as they are infused with the elements that make jazz what it is. The music swings, it has a beat (which varies from time to time, as it should) and plenty of room is left for improvisation. These qualities come together on such pieces as "The Other Irene", which features a finger snapping drum break by Tim Mulvenna, and the album's opener, "The ‘Balled' Eagle". Tobias also can rhapsodize and be reflective with a ballad as he shows on a pretty tune called "September", one of the CDs more pleasant moments.
Tobias does not try to over intellectualize with his compositions nor overwhelm with his piano. Instead he brings an awesome freshness to the music as he performs with a well modulated and highly honed lyrical sense. Recommended. Visit Tim's site at www.beacbhaus.com.