Masters of the Modern Piano

Various Artists

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Masters of the Modern Piano Review

by Scott Yanow

This excellent two-LP set (which draws its material from the vaults of Verve) has a strong cross-section of modern pianists covering a ten-year period. Bud Powell is heard on six numbers with bassist George Duvivier and drummer Art Taylor in 1955 and, although Powell was no longer in peak form, in general he plays well. There is also music from Mary Lou Williams (performing "The Zodiac Suite" and "Carioca" with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra), Paul Bley (three fairly free trios from 1961 with clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre and bassist Steve Swallow), Wynton Kelly (who plays "Blues on Purpose" in 1965) and two songs from the 1966 Bill Evans Trio. The most interesting selections however are the three numbers performed by the Cecil Taylor Quartet (with Steve Lacy on soprano, bassist Buell Neidlinger and drummer Dennis Charles) at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival. It is fascinating to hear Taylor take apart Billy Strayhorn's "Johnny Come Lattely," a blues and his own "Tune 2"; this is as accessible as Cecil Taylor ever got. Although some of the music on this two-fer has been reissued on CD, the attractive set is still recommended to those listeners who happen to run across it.