Bill Dobbins has been praised by the likes of Phil Woods and Gene Bertonicini, and has appeared as a guest on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz series, but because he spends far more time teaching music than performing it outside the classroom, he isn't as well known as he ought to be. This solo session was taped in early 1981 for Omnisound, a small but impressive label that never got its due during its brief existence. Primarily a showcase for his original writing, Dobbins explores a wide range of piano styles, starting with his "Cantankerous Chromatics," an obvious salute to ragtime greats and the masters of Harlem stride. The elegant ballad "Waltz for Clare" was inspired by the writing of Clare Fischer, while "Yardbird Conversation" is a study in two-part counterpoint built upon the chord changes to Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite." The tricky "Bent" is dedicated to Thelonious Monk, who achieved many things thought impossible on the piano. In addition to a probing treatment of Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," Dobbins' "Evolutionary Etude" finds him coming full circle by exploring a bit of avant-garde. While this long-unavailable LP will be overlooked by labels specializing in reissues, fans of jazz piano shouldn't hesitate to pick up this very rewarding session should they run across it in used record bins.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden
feat: Duke Ellington