In a rare solo flight, Jim McNeely is anything but predictable in Vol. 20 of the Maybeck Recital Hall series, where he applies his considerable technique and freewheeling imagination to a collection of pop and jazz standards, plus two originals. After a minimalist opening, "There Will Never Be Another You" turns into a complex, agitated thing, and Jobim's "Zingaro" is deconstructed after a token stab at a bossa feeling. Monk's "Bye Ya" is similarly original and convoluted in concept, while its Monkish companion "'Round Midnight" is paradoxically straightforward. McNeely also includes two compositions of his own -- a mostly reflective piece called "Touch" that works best when planted upon a single ostinato, and the tumbling "Breaking Up, Breaking Out." Sometimes the inspiration level is uneven, but the payoff is high when all cylinders are pumping.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell