Friday, March 07, 2014

Harold Mabern - Right On Time (Smoke Sessions, 2014)

Coming on the heels of his excellent 2013 release Live at Smalls (one of my top ten albums from last year) pianist Harold Mabern seems ready to keep a good thing going by once again reuniting with John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums in a live setting. Mabern is a veteran musician and plays with absolute authority and the trio is well accustomed to each other. The program is a varied one, ranging from a deep and powerful version of "My Favorite Things" with Mabern's strong playing recalling McCoy Tyner's work on John Coltrane's famous version of the song. Be the trio is beholden to no one and makes a fine statement of their own on this performance. From this to the Laverne and Shirley theme song (!) "Making our Dreams Come True" is a wide leap, but you get the feeling that they could make do with almost any raw material. But it is the jazz standards that show them at their finest, like on a melodic version of "Seven Steps To Heaven" with Mabern pounding out a percussive version of the well known melody, before drifting into a fine improvised section. They wrap thing up with a blistering version of "Cherokee" and they run through the classic bebop standard with speed and mastery. This is a very fine album, and is highly recommended to fans of mainstream jazz. Right on Time - amazon.com

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