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.
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell