Larry Karush

Art of the Improviser

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Larry Karush is quite familiar with earlier jazz piano styles, including stride, ragtime, and boogie woogie, but not restricted by that knowledge. In fact, his previous work included some recordings of world music, minimalist classical music, and very modern jazz. His eight intriguing performances (all originals) on this set are more traditional in nature but are also episodic and unpredictable, unexpectedly moving from one theme and mood to another. He very effectively emulates a banjo on parts of the lengthy "Banjo Variations" (which also contains some avant-garde sections), jams à la Lennie Tristano on "L's P's" (based on "What Is This Thing Called Love"), and comes up with many ideas on James P. Johnson's "How Can I Be Blue," which is retitled "Variations on a Theme by James P. Johnson." Some of the other themes (including "Meditation" and "Reach") are much more somber, but "The Nine Beat Boogie" is a bit of a hoot, swinging so hard that one does not always notice the extra beat. This underrated set, particularly on its more spirited pieces, is quite a delight.

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