Randy Halberstadt

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The trio of pianist Randy Halberstadt, bassist Jeff Johnson, and drummer Gary Hobbs is based in the Pacific Northwest. On this outing, they perform a few swingers ("The Touch of Your Lips" and "Everything I Love"), engage in superior ballad playing ("In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and "Don't Forget the Poet"), and show off their wit on Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't." Other highlights include Artie Shaw's "Moonray," the adventurous opening to "Invitation," and the trio's transformation of a familiar Chopin melody into jazz. In addition, Halberstadt takes Bill Evans' obscure "B Minor Waltz" as a piano solo. This modern mainstream jazz set has enough subtle surprises and variety to keep listeners interested and stimulated all the way through. Recommended.

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