Gordon Beck has long been one of England's top jazz pianists, but his exposure to the U.S. jazz market was minimal until he took up with the Art of Life label, producing a series of outstanding CDs. This concert from the 2005 Appleby Jazz Festival is a prime example, with dynamic interaction between Beck and his rhythm section, bassist Jeremy Brown and drummer Tony Levin, starting with their explosive interpretation of Miles Davis' "Solar." Beck's lyrical treatment of the standard "Gone with the Wind" revives this old chestnut with flair, and his romp through "California, Here I Come" proves that there are also plenty of possibilities for this decades-old show tune in a post-bop setting. His country-flavored ballad "For P.J." is a memorial to pianist Pete Jacobsen, who died under tragic circumstances, while "Appleby Blues" is an inspired off-the-cuff riff tune that finds the trio completely in the pocket. The flawless engineering gives the listener a front row seat for this thoroughly enjoyable live set recorded in the great outdoors.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden