Anthony Wonsey

Blues for Hiroshi

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Anthony Wonsey was already one of the top pianists of his generation, but he developed his chops considerably over the five-year stretch since his previous date as a leader. In a trio set with bassist Richie Goods and drummer Tony Reedus, Wonsey delivers a mix of standards, classic jazz compositions, and his delightful originals, making for a well-paced CD. Wonsey's jaunty take of "Nobody Else But Me" shows off his striding left hand. The brisk arrangement of "Just You, Just Me" has a dissonant flavor reminiscent of Thelonious Monk, yet it swings like mad. He retains the lyricism of Bill Evans' signature tune, "Waltz for Debby," while also adding his own dazzling touch. He introduces Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks" with a lush descending run, then delves into a richly textured arrangement as the rhythm section joins him. His hard-charging take of Charlie Parker's blues "Relaxin' at Camarillo" salutes Tommy Flanagan and Elvin Jones, who recorded it on Flanagan's album Overseas. Wonsey's originals are also remarkable. "Damn That Reality" is a well-disguised reworking of the chord changes to the standard "Darn That Dream," transformed into a driving hard bop vehicle. "Brother Hiroshi" honors Tokyo club owner Hiroshi Imaizumi, who has employed him for extended regular gigs. This strutting post-bop original is drenched in a blues feeling. Wonsey also revisits and expands upon his own "Black Fairy Tales," a lyrical waltz that he first recorded on his debut recording as a leader. Throughout the date, both Richie Goods and Tony Reedus provide terrific support for this very talented pianist.

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