Every major jazz city has its share of musicians who are highly regarded locally but little known outside of their home town. In Chicago, one example is King Fleming, a veteran bop pianist who has commanded a lot of respect in Chicago jazz circles since the '50s but has yet to achieve national recognition. Regrettably, Fleming hasn't recorded nearly often enough; so most of the jazz enthusiasts who have been singing his praises over the years are Chi-Town residents who frequent the city's jazz clubs. When Fleming recorded King!: The King Fleming Songbook for Chicago's Southport label in 1995, it marked the first time he had recorded as a leader since some Chess sessions in 1966. With King!, the pianist finally documented his working trio, a group that employed bassist Clifford Griffin and drummer Bill Cochran and had been playing around Chicago since 1982. Fleming sticks to his own compositions, which range from the congenial "Once Is Enough" and the melancholy "A Fallen Leaf," to the haunting "Misty Night" and the sentimental "You and Only You." For those who appreciate ultra-melodic bop pianists like Wynton Kelly, Tommy Flanagan and Red Garland, Fleming's long overdue return to the studio would be an excellent choice.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson