Kevin Hays

Ugly Beauty

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Kevin Hays was only 23 at the time of this recording and hadn't quite developed the hallmarks of his own style. Still, this is clearly the work of a prodigious talent. Joined by Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Williams on drums, the pianist tackles difficult music by post-bop greats Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Wayne Shorter, and John Coltrane. He does beautiful work with the standard ballads "Chelsea Bridge" and "Detour Ahead," as well as the Monk classic "Ugly Beauty." Only one Hays original, "The Well," appears, along with "How the Mighty Fall," a bossa by the underrated tenor saxophonist and composer Patrick Zimmerli. Hays' superior grasp of harmony is quite evident; his improvising -- while extremely impressive -- is not as distinctive as it would become in subsequent years. The fact that this is one of only two trio albums in Hays' catalog (as of this writing) makes it all the more interesting.

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