Teddy Wilson

Mr. Wilson: The Fabulous Teddy Wilson at the Piano

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Teddy Wilson made a fair number of recordings as a leader during the 1950s and 1960s, but the Columbia LPs, such as this trio session from the mid-1950s, have become an obscurity instead of a candidate for reissue. Part of the problem may be that all of the 12 standards recorded by Wilson on this date are so associated with his repertoire and his approach (swinging yet low-key without garish musical ornamentation) that it is easy to overlook such an album. His rhythm sections (either Al Hall and J. C. Heard or Al McKibbon and Kansas Fields) are relegated strictly to time keeping, so the focus is exclusively on the leader, who swings as well as during any time in his long career. But his seemingly effortless playing disguises the fact that this musician worked very hard to hone his craft and didn't feel the need to continuously change his style over time. His trademarked tenths are a key part of his interpretation of "Rosetta," and the waterfall like glissandi in songs like "Them There Eyes" are reminiscent of an economical Art Tatum. All of his solo tracks, especially "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," prove to be memorable. Maybe this LP will never be regarded as one of Teddy Wilson's most essential dates as a leader, but any fan of his music will not be disappointed if he or she manages to acquire a copy of this collector's item.

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