Spike Wilner

3 to Go

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Pianist Spike Wilner, who is the current owner of Smalls Jazz Club in New York, is an excellent hard bop pianist with a strong musical imagination. On 3 to Go, he constantly matches wits with the great up-and-coming tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm and trumpeter Ryan Kisor. Check out their interplay and how they build on each other's phrases during a surprisingly uptempo version of "How Am I to Know" (which is usually a ballad). While Frahm often takes solo honors, each of the members of the quintet makes his contributions felt, including the swinging bass-drums team of Ugonna Okegwo and Montez Coleman. Other than Wilner's title cut, the set mostly features revivals of relative obscurities, some of which are given their definitive treatments as a band performance, particularly Hampton Hawes' modal blues "Black Forest" and Duke Ellington's "Reflections in D." 3 to Go will be enjoyed both by straight-ahead and modern jazz listeners, and overall it is a memorable effort.

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