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It is not difficult to measure how much influence the late Bill Evans has exerted over the young pianists of today. The impact of his playing can be heard, in varying degrees, in virtually every pianist that followed him. That's because he changed the way piano players approach the instrument, moving away from a strict bebop vocabulary, and bringing to fore the piano's inherent orchestral abilities through dense harmonies and sweeping melodic lines. Evans employed an introspective approach, gracefully caressing the keyboard with an uncommon subtlety not found in the bop pianists of the fifties. He used chord voicings that were at times ambiguous; he left it up to the to bassist to define the tonic. Evans' level of concentration at the keyboard could be mesmerizing. He would often be in a trance-like state as he allowed the piano to consume both his mind and his body. And although Bill Evans will be sorely missed, his spirit and his influence will be felt for decades to come, thanks in part to Kenny Drew Jr., a gifted and sensitive young pianist who has released this wonderful CD on the TCB Label, entitled This One's For Bill.
No stranger to jazz fans, Kenny Drew Jr. has released a dozen CD's under his own name, and is on countless others as a sideman. Well versed in the classical repertoire, Kenny has immense technique on his instrument, yet there is also a sensitivity and beauty that he exudes in his music. Kenny is quite capable of introspection and contemplation; it is for this very reason that this solo piano outing is so successful. Only in the hands of a master, can the orchestral capabilities of this instrument be fully realized. In this most intimate setting, Kenny clearly orchestrates for his instrument, embellishing each measure of each tune, with an wide array of tonal hues. And if a carefully built phrase, sweeping arpeggio, or mellow cascade of chords puts you in mind of Bill Evans, it's not necessarily your imagination.
Aside from the title cut, which is Kenny's personal tribute to the late Evans, the set of songs on this disc were either penned by Evans, or closely associated with him. Included is a beautiful rendition of "Nardis," a tune Bill played for many years. Although the actual composer of this song has been the subject of much controversy, the piece, with it's exotic melody line and quiet chords, has Bill Evans written all over it. Other highlights from the disc are the song "Suicide Is Painless"(which many will remember as the theme-song from the T.V. show M.A.S.H. ), and a crisp offering of Henry Mancini's "The Day Of Wine And Roses." This latest effort by Kenny Drew is a consistently rewarding CD to listen to, further documenting his continuous growth as a player, and serving to fortify his position as one of the premiere jazz pianists of the 21 century.
Track Listing: This One's For Bill; Remembering The Rain; Suicide Is Painless; It's Love It's Christmas; On Green Dolphin Street; The two Lonely People; The Days Of Wine And Roses; Nardis
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.