Mr. Piano Man

Joe Sullivan

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Mr. Piano Man Review

by Ken Dryden

Joe Sullivan recorded infrequently as a leader, so this solo album, made for the obscure Down Home label in 1955, and reissued on Verve a short time later, is noteworthy, particularly since it ended up being his final official release (though a few live recordings and a television broadcast were issued after his death). Sullivan is in top form as he revisits three gems by Fats Waller, including "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now," and "Black and Blue." The influence of both Waller and Earl Fatha Hines is readily apparent throughout the album. The pianist also plays four originals: the buoyant ballad "In the Middle of a Kiss," the striding "Just Strolling Along," the bluesy "Bush Above Powell," (named for the location of Club Hangover in San Francisco, where Sullivan was a regular at the time of the recording), and the lively "Frolicking Fido." The David Stone Martin cover art also adds to the appeal of this LP, which is long out of print and likely to be found only on auction lists.

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