Ronnell Bright / Art Simmons

Jazz in Paris: Piano aux Champs-Elysees

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This compilation in Verve's Jazz in Paris reissue series features two long unavailable studio sessions by two somewhat obscure pianists. Art Simmons, who recorded as a sideman with James Moody in 1949 and also appeared on discs by Dizzy Gillespie, Don Byas, Trummy Young, Bill Coleman, and Clark Terry, made his recording debut as a leader in 1956 with English guitarist Terry Donahue, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Dave Bailey. Although his cool style of playing is a bit conservative, his treatments of standards such as "My Funny Valentine," "Too Marvelous for Words," and "Nice Work if You Can Get It" are worthwhile. Ronnell Bright is primarily known for his work as pianist for Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson, though he did a few dates as a leader. This 1958 session, originally recorded for Polydor, is a trio session with bassist Richard Davis and drummer Art Morgan. The music includes compositions by Johnny Pate (with whom he made his recording debut), Dizzy Gillespie, and Nat King Cole, as well the venerable blues from the Ellington songbook, "Things Ain't What They Used to Be." But the highlight of the second half of this CD consists of Bright's originals, especially the Bud Powell-flavored "Chasing Sarah."

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