Gerald Clayton has been one of the bright lights of his generation, playing with the Clayton Brothers (co-led by his father and uncle) and accompanying instrumentalists (Roy Hargrove, Don Braden, and Ambrose Akinmusire), jazz vocalists (Roberta Gambarini, Diana Krall, and Melissa Morgan), jazz-pop singers (Michael Bublé and Reneé Olstead), in addition to leading his own band and composing. His second release as a leader is a trio session with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown, plus some solo piano tracks. His interpretations of standards are remarkably fresh, considering how often they have been recorded in a jazz setting. He sets up "If I Were a Bell" with a subtle vamp as he slowly works his way into it, delivering a witty performance well supported by his sidemen. Clayton, while not totally eschewing the famous introduction to "All the Things You Are" added by Dizzy Gillespie, does rework it into a more subtle harmonic device before delving directly into the song, with a tense, understated approach that simmers but never reaches the boiling point. His solo take of "Nobody Else But Me" is full of intricately interwoven lines while still swinging like mad. Where Clayton really stands apart from young musicians of his generation is as a composer. He shows a surprising maturity for his age, as his pieces display a wealth of stylistic influences yet retain memorable themes that hold one's interest as well. Highlights including his dramatic three-part suite, his Impressionist "Sun Glimpse," and the touching lyrical ballad "Hank."
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden