Like Marmarosa (and legendary pianist Erroll Garner), Davis hails from Pittsburgh, and was well aware of Dodo's trail-blazing career at the keyboard. What is lesser known (and what Davis chooses to emphasize here) is Marmarosa's singular proficiency as a composer. To do so, he has enlisted the services of a blue-chip rhythm section comprising bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton to perform ten of Marmarosa's seductive original compositions and one flat-out charmer ("A Ditty for Dodo") by Davis. The bop influence is strong throughout, as is Marmarosa's capacity to write enchanting melodies that also swing.
The album's opening number, the Garner-like "Mellow Mood," was written when Marmarosa was a scant fourteen years old (yes, he was a child prodigy who became a professional musician in his mid-teens and listed among his early musical influences Chopin, Ravel, Debussy and Stravinsky). "Mood" is delightful, but no more so than Dodo's eight other themes, which include a blues, a bounce, a battle, a lament and "Tone Paintings." There is even a clever contrafact ("Compadoo") of the standard "Sweet Georgia Brown." The tasteful and deeply grooved "Dary Departs" is among the album's several highlights, as is the animated "Battle of the Balcony Jive," which leads to the pensive and suitable closing number, "Dodo's Lament."
The album's other numbers are "Dodo's Bounce," "Dodo's Blues," "Escape" and "Opus No. 5." The guess here is that Davisan artist to keep an eye onplays them precisely as Marmaroso would have wanted. As for Clayton, he is simply one of the finest bassists on the scene (his solos are models of elegance and perception), while Hamilton's superior talents with sticks and brushes remain at their peak. As trio sessions go, it does not get much better than this. An exemplary tribute to a remarkable musician whose legacy should neither be undervalued nor overlooked.
Mellow Mood; Dodo’s Bounce; Dodo’s Blues; Escape; A Ditty for Dodo; Opus No. 5;
Compadoo; Dary Departs; Tone Paintings; Battle of the Balcony Jive; Dodo’s Lament.
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