In an article published in the Village Voice a couple of years ago Gary Giddins traced a history of recorded jazz in song, year by year, and Hank Jones’ solo “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” was pegged as the noteworthy performance of 1977. As his rhythm section lays out, Jones tinkles his piano as if prompting a dream sequence, then leaves the song behind as he performs one harmonic digression after another before returning to the tune with an almost-barrelhouse jauntiness. “Utterly lovely,” in Giddins’s description, and out-of-print at the time the article was written, now that song and the album on which it appeared have been reissued on CD.
Solo Jones is the exception on The Trio. Forgive the slight to drummer Bobby Rosengarden whose contribution is subtle enough to be missed or perfectly, correctly unobtrusive, but Jones and bassist Milt Hinton are the show, as Hinton’s rock-solid pizzicato walks with an unwaveringly confident gait, allowing Jones to dance back and forth across the keys.
On Hinton’s own “Mona’s Feeling Lonely," Jones comps modestly in support as the bassist pulls lead notes from the middle and lower registers before delicately handing the melody off to Jones. And all does not swing gently. “‘S Wonderful” is fast out of the box, with Hinton moving up and down the neck of the bass and Rosengarden clicking along on his snare, while “I’ll Remember April” is attacked in a hot, headlong rush, fueled by double-time drumming at the outset.
Ultimately this trio approached each song, whether popular standard or original composition, with respect, taste, and musicianship of the highest order. More than 25 years later, with Milt Hinton gone in the interim, the loveliness and grace of the trio’s melodies and the camaraderie palpable in their playing carries on.
1. 'S Wonderful
2. Queen of Hearts
3. Mona's Feeling Lonely
4. Right Here, Right Now
5. I'll Remember April
6. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
7. Lullaby of the Leaves
9. Hank You Thank
Hank Jones - Piano;
Milt Hinton - Bass;
Bobby Rosengarden - Drums.
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