Roland Hanna

Sir Roland Hanna at Maybeck

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Concord recorded a number of solo piano concerts in the warm surroundings of the tiny Maybeck Recital Hall and one would be hard-pressed to find any that surpass this outstanding performance by Sir Roland Hanna. Over half of his program is devoted to selections by George Gershwin, beginning with a dazzling "Love Walked In," which delves into a jaunty style reminiscent of the late Erroll Garner.

"Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" is a special treat. Opening with a dissonant vamp, Hanna's arrangement is relatively understated compared to typical jazz recordings, sounding like someone whistling to himself while strolling on a poorly lit street on a dark night, though he playfully quotes from several compositions (including Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King") and adds an improvised fugue as well. Hanna pulls all stops with his breathtaking improvised introduction to Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," while also adding his own special embellishments throughout this gorgeous ballad. Like many of the releases in this series, Hanna's Maybeck concert was dropped from the catalog after the company changed hands, so expect it to become a high-priced collectable before long.

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