Hod O'Brien's second volume from a 2004 gig at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., is another evening of masterful piano, accompanied by two of the most in-demand accompanists, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Kenny Washington. The program mixes well-known jazz compositions and standards played with imagination. The crowd is wowed immediately with his explosive take of Sonny Rollins' "Pent-Up House," though he easily switches gears for a relaxing interpretation of Billy Strayhorn's swinging "Snibor." The trio reaches a climax with its intense workout of Randy Weston's "Little Niles," capturing its nuances while adding O'Brien's personal touch as well. "Love Letters" is a chestnut that has been overlooked for some time; O'Brien's breezy treatment reveals its considerable merits as a vehicle for improvisation. "In a Sentimental Mood" is a showcase for Drummond's inventive bass, with lush backing by O'Brien and Washington's subdued brushwork. The pianist concludes the set with two more songs from the vast repertoire of Duke Ellington, following the rollicking "Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me" with a jaunty interpretation of the inevitable "Take the 'A' Train."
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden