Gene DiNovi

The Three Optimists at the Old Mill

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Gene DiNovi is a historical jazz pianist. Active in the 52nd Street scene during its later years, he worked with the likes of Boyd Raeburn, Chubby Jackson, Benny Goodman, Milt Jackson, Lester Young, and Buddy DeFranco in the 1940s. Although part of the bop era, DiNovi had a love for show tunes and for caressing the melodies of swing standards which served him well during periods working as an accompanist for Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Carmen McRae, and Lena Horne. He has lived in Toronto since 1972, had a longtime association with Benny Carter, and become as well known in cabaret settings as in jazz. Fortunately DiNovi has not lost his jazz chops, and has been heard more often in jazz settings since the early '90s. On The Three Optimists at the Old Mill, he revives the piano-guitar-bass trio format which was popular in the '40s and '50s thanks to Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Ahmad Jamal. Guitarist Andrew Scott contributes many fine boppish solos while bassist Dave Young offers steady support and is showcased as a soloist on "The Song Is You." DiNovi digs into some of his favorite songs including three by Cole Porter, the obscure "A Cock-Eyed Optimist," and an exploration of "I Got Rhythm" that hints at three later jazz tunes based on the same chord changes, showing on the latter that he has not forgotten his roots in bebop. Most of the music (other than the "I Got Rhythm" medley) is taken at a relaxed pace with the pianist's solos being consistently melodic. A tasteful effort.

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