Adam Makowicz

A Handful of Stars

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Although recorded in 1981, this trio set by pianist Adam Makowicz, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Jack DeJohnette (the last ever worked on by legendary producer John Hammond) was not initially released until 1997. The lengthy delay was due to the collapse of a planned label rather than any musical deficiencies. Makowicz, who moved to the United States from his native Poland in 1977 when he was 37, is a masterful player whose idol was Art Tatum but who always had his own style. In addition to four of his melodic originals, Makowicz swings such veteran standards as "Just in Time," "Somebody Loves Me," "Bye Bye Blues," and "What Is This Thing Called Love." "Bye Bye Blues" is taken at a ridiculously fast tempo and has Makowicz (at least in his right-hand runs) recalling Tatum, who he also hints at during parts of "A Handful of Stars" and an uptempo "What Is This Thing Called Love." Throughout the set, it is easy to appreciate Makowicz's harmonically advanced style, the telepathic communication between the pianist and his sidemen, and the very impressive musicianship. The CD concludes with a seven-and-a-half-minute "Jazzspeak" that has Makowicz reminiscing about his life up to the late '90s, including his memories of this project. Highly recommended.

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