Various Artists

100 Gold Fingers: Piano Playhouse 1990

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100 Gold Fingers: Piano Playhouse is a portion of two concerts by a group of ten jazz pianists who toured Japan together, though only five are heard on each performance and no two keyboardists play with one another, with the occasional addition of a rhythm section (Bob Cranshaw and Alan Dawson). The song selection draws heavily from standards and timeless jazz compositions, especially works by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Richard Rodgers, though Ray Bryant, Monty Alexander and Cedar Walton each play at least one original. There are a few surprises, such as Harold Mabern's wild interpretation of "My Favorite Things," which he begins with an excerpt of another song from The Sound of Music ("Climb Every Mountain") before launching into a topsy-turvy post-bop variation of John Coltrane's famous modal arrangement. There's also Roger Kellaway's thoughtful extended exploration of "Doxy" that borders on Impressionism at times. Except for the little known Lynn Bernstein (who merits her presence with two fine performances), the remaining artists are all well-known veterans, including Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Barron, Junior Mance and finally, Hank Jones, who also serves as master of ceremonies. This two-CD set has only been issued in Japan and is well worth seeking.

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