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John Tesh was a familiar face with his long running stint as co-host of the popular syndicated television series Entertainment Tonight, but few people realized that he was serious about his musical career for a long time. Although his recordings have been very much into New Age and, recently, pop Christian music, he has also unveiled a longtime interest that he hasn't performed in public: jazz.
Eschewing the banks of electronic keyboards heard on many of his recordings, Tesh sticks exclusively to grand piano as he dives head-first into a program of challenging works by bop great Bud Powell. "Parisian Thoroughfare" is one of Powell's most difficult pieces, yet Tesh navigates it at such a blazing tempo it sounds like he has played it throughout his career.
He easily captures the sly humor within "So Sorry Please" and surprisingly pulls off "Tempus Fugue-It" (for years misidentified as "Tempus Fugit"). His brisk, rollicking treatment of "Celia" will definitely turn a few heads among critics. He also deserves credit for playing some of Powell's less frequently performed songs like "Willow Grove."
The one slight misfire is Tesh's composition "This Bud's For You," a ballad intended as a serious salute to Bud Powell, but is just not up to the standard of Powell's compositions as it comes off a little flat. The excellent liner notes are by the German jazz scholar Hans Totmüde, who got to know Powell through Francois Paderas during the pianist's time in Europe and also Mary Hart, Tesh's co-host on the television magazine Entertainment Tonight.
Track Listing: Parisian Thoroughfare; Reets and I; Bouncing With Bud; Celia; Buttercup; So Sorry Please; Tempus Fugue-It; Elegy; Willow Grove; This Bud's For You.
Personnel: John Tesh: piano; Hans TotmŁde & Mary Hart: liner notes.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.