Joe Augustine

Cool Today, Jazz Tonight

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Joe Augustine isn't a huge name in the jazz world, but those who are aware of the acoustic pianist really swear by him. Listening to Cool Today, Jazz Tonight, it isn't hard to see why; Augustine is very easy to like. His playing is extremely lyrical and melodic -- not to mention quite accessible -- and he has a way of making every note count. Some chops-obsessed beboppers will jump through hoops trying to impress you with how many notes they can play and how fast they can play them, but Augustine would rather tell you a story than beat you over the head with technique. That isn't to say that he doesn't have chops; however, he would rather communicate with the listener than spend all of his time engaging in musical gymnastics. Again, Augustine is all about telling stories, which is exactly what he does, whether he is getting funky on Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train" and his own "Funk 'n' Games" or being romantic and sentimental on the poetic "No More Tears" (another original). Augustine isn't just interested in lines -- he's interested in melodies, and that love of a good melody is the thing he gets from Red Garland and Oscar Peterson, as well as Gene Harris. It's the thing that inspires him on Eden Ahbez' haunting "Nature Boy," a major hit for Nat "King" Cole in the 1940s; it's the reason he chooses Dave Frishberg's "Peel Me a Grape" and Peggy Lee's sexy 1950s hit "Fever." Augustine is no innovator, but he's definitely his own man -- and on Cool Today, Jazz Tonight, he reminds listeners how effective a communicator he can be.

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