John Coates Jr.

Pocono Friends Encore

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This compilation of studio recordings by pianist John Coates Jr. with several friends actually comes from the same sessions that produced his earlier Omnisound LP, Pocono Friends. Coates, who was the house pianist at the famed Deer Head Inn for a quarter century, had only recently begun to regularly record for the label; his playing is very original and at a high level throughout the album. Phil Woods adds his sparkling alto to Cole Porter's overlooked gem "Why Shouldn't I?," while trombonist Urbie Green steps in for the rarely performed "Pete Kelly's Blues," a forgotten work that is far better than the wooden portrayal of a jazz trumpeter by actor Jack Webb (of Dragnet fame) in the film of the same name. Coates also has rewarding duets with guitarist Harry Leahey and bassist Steve Gilmore, and veteran studio session musician George Young adds his soprano sax (along with Gilmore on bass) on a roller coaster rendition of "Our Love Is Here to Stay." Coates' original compositions, several of which are heard only as fleeting solos, deserve wider recognition. Due to the demise of Omnisound, this music has been unavailable for some time, but portions of it may eventually turn up on pianist Eric Doney's Pacific St. label, since he is one of Coates' biggest fans and he has already put out a compilation of his work, The Omnisound Years. Highly recommended.

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