Monday, August 12, 2013

Harold Mabern - Live at Smalls (Smalls Live, 2013)

Veteran pianist Harold Mabern releases a splendid live album in the company of John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums. Mabern came up in the early 1960’s, moving to New York City from Memphis and apprenticing with jazz luminaries before he began recording as a leader at the end of that decade. This was a very exciting set recorded during June of 2012 and must have been a blast to listen to in person. “Alone Together” and “I’m Walking” are hard driving performances where Mabern builds percussive cascades of keyboard abutted by strong bass and drums. “Road Song” and “Boogie for McShann” delve deeper into blues and soul, building dynamic crescendos. Proving that he can make great music out of anything, Mabern and the trio dissect the theme from “Sesame Street” and turn it into a rollicking performance. Rounding out an excellent album is a fine rendition of “Afro-Blue” played with great vigor and enthusiasm. Mainstream jazz fans will definitely enjoy this album, it features a master musician at the top of his game. Harold Mabern: Live at Smalls -

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