74

Mike Longo Trio +2: To My Surprise

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
When is a trio not a trio? Well, when it's the Mike Longo Trio +2, which actually makes it a quintet. Such is the case on six of the dozen tracks on Longo's new CD, To My Surprise, which showcases not only the versatile pianist's core group (bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash), but also the impressive talents of trumpeter Jimmy Owens and tenor saxophonist Lance Bryant.

What is apparent from the outset is that everyone is having a grand time. Even though clearly well-rehearsed (and well-recorded), the session has an engaging looseness about it, epitomizing the way it must be when good friends (which these gentlemen certainly are) get together to jam in someone's living room, den or garage. Longo, who passed every test a sideman can bear during his twenty-five years with the legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, eases snugly into any groove, as do the members of his working group, Cranshaw and Nash. Longo plays with warmth and discipline, always aware of where he has been and where he intends to go. His solos are well-constructed, his comping tasteful and responsive. As for Owens and Bryant, they are more than window-dressing, adding weight to the trio while delivering a number of bright and earnest solos (especially on the fast-paced opener, "A Picture of Dorian Mode").

Longo, who composed five of the numbers on this release, writes well. Even so, it is the standards—all performed by the trio—whose familiar melodies (all of which have stood the test of time) remind us of an era when writing popular songs was an art form second to none. Longo plays each one superbly, starting with Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You" and continuing with "Old Devil Moon," "You've Changed" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." The album opens with three of Longo's original compositions, "Dorian Mode," "Still Water" and "New Muse Blues," all ably performed by the quintet. Completing the program are Wayne Shorter's "Limbo," Owens' "Magic Bluze," Herbie Hancock's turbulent "Eye of the Hurricane" and Longo's "Alone Again" and "To My Surprise." The quintet is present and accounted for on "Magic Bluze," "To My Surprise" and "Alone Again."

Trio or quintet, To My Surprise is contemporary small-group jazz the way it is meant to be played, with enthusiasm and awareness by musicians who know the game plan and follow it to the letter, all the while leaving ample room for inspiration and, yes, surprise.

Track Listing

A Picture of Dorian Mode; Still Water; New Muse Blues; Limbo; Alone Again; I Hadn't Anyone 'Til You; Old Devil Moon; Magic Bluze; To My Surprise; You've Changed; Eye of the Hurricane; In the Wee Small Hours.

Personnel

Mike Longo: piano; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Jimmy Owens: trumpet, flugelhorn; Lance Bryant: tenor saxophone.

Album information

Title: To My Surprise | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Consolidated Artists Productions

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

More

Read Sun Trance
Sun Trance
Markus Reuter
Read Lies
Lies
Clemens Kuratle Murmullo
Read Prism
Prism
Conference Call

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.