Mark Shane

On Treasure Island

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On Treasure Island pays tribute to the one and only Fats Waller. Pianist Mark Shane runs through a play list of 16 uptempo tunes, not surprisingly several of them coming from the fertile musical pen of Waller. Shane, in solo performance and with friends, recreates the bright, effervescent swing-stride style of Waller bubbling away on essentially every tune. That Shane shows a special affinity for this music is understandable given his musical background. He has sat in with several of Waller's contemporaries like Doc Cheatham, Buck Clayton, Wild Bill Davison, and Vic Dickenson. Moreover, Shane was the house pianist at Eddie Condon's famous New York jazz bistro and played jazz piano on the sound track of Mike Nichol's Biloxi Blues and Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs.

There's not anything fancy going on with the performances on this album. Most of Shane's solos are straight out of the Waller breed of piano-key striking. Especially entertaining are his solo offerings of "On Treasure Island" and "I'm Coming Virginia" as well as a relaxed "Body and Soul." There are some instruments in duet not normally heard in today's jazz scenario. Ed Polcer's Jimmy McPartland-like cornet combines with Shane's piano on "I Don't Know If I'm Comin' or Goin'" and is especially hot on "Tiger Rag." "Get Rhythm in Your Feet" is a clarinet trio featuring Dan Block. Tom Artin, doing Vic Dickenson, is center stage for a couple of tunes, but he's particularly effective on an understated rendition of "Some of These Days." Vocalist Terry Blaine is present on four of the tunes and, given her obvious affection for the music from this period, she's a perfect choice for "canary" on this set. Listen to her recall Lee Wiley's "On the Sentimental Side," one highlight of the album. When they are called upon to do so, Frank Tate on bass and Joe Ascione on drums do yeomen work in meeting their obligation to keep the rhythm on track. On Treasure Island is over an hour's worth of classic happy jazz played by musicians who have both a reverence for and knowledge of how to play it.

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