Harold Danko

The First Love Song

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Harold Danko has made many fine CDs and this overlooked session from 1988 is worth searching for. The pianist is assisted by bassist Rufus Reid, the late drummer Mel Lewis, and the extraordinary trumpeter and fl├╝gelhornist Tom Harrell (on selected tracks), whose star was beginning to rise at the time of the recording. The title track is an unjustly obscure but very subtle ballad by Bob Brookmeyer, marked by understated playing by the quartet, with Lewis on brushes and Harrell utilizing a mute while Danko and Reid leave plenty of breathing room. The restraints are cut loose for a romp through "Devil May Care," which features Danko's driving solo and Harrell's somewhat distant yet marvelous fl├╝gelhorn. "Cliches" is a Danko original (it's a shame that one can't hear the likely witty lyric that accompanies it by Ray Passman and Holli Ross) that's also a playful waltz. The trio tracks include the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" played at march tempo with Danko lightly strumming the piano strings in the introduction; this surprising arrangement shows a lot more imagination than most jazz players who have attempted it. The poignant ballad "Why Did I Choose You" is another gem by the trio. This out of print CD is warmly recommended.

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