Mike Lipskin

California Here I Come

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Willie "The Lion" Smith was a legend among the Harlem stride pianists, on this long unavailable LP he shares a few pointers with protégé Mike Lipskin. The title track is at first dominated by their conversation over the music, but their romping duo rendition simulates what an old-fashioned cutting contest might have sounded like. Their duets of "Carolina Shout" and "The Sheik of Araby" are equally enjoyable. Both pianists are represented on solo tracks and Lipskin fronts a quartet with underrated clarinetist Stan Monteiro, the odd choice of electric bassist Chuck Rainey, and the surprising inclusion of drummer Elvin Jones, who plays a duo on brushes with Lipskin on "Snowy Mornin' Blues." Overdue for appearance on CD, but unlikely with the death of producer Bob Thiele in 1995.