Franco D'Andrea

Prez and Bix

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Don't be fooled by this CD's title! Even though it is a tribute to Lester Young and Bix Beiderbecke, pianist Franco D'Andrea's rather modern approach to the songs the two greats played is full of surprises. Featuring bassist Ares Tavolazzi and drummer Massimo Manzi, D'Andrea's angular setting of "Lester Smooths It Out" gets a bit far out in spots, though it never loses track of its bluesy theme. The trio's jaunty take of "East of the Sun" (a standard recorded by Young on just one occasion) can best be described as a post-bop roller coaster. Manzi introduces "At the Jazz Band Ball" in march tempo, though this classic jazz favorite gets a considerable facelift once the leader makes his entrance. In the two takes of Beiderbecke's "Davenport Blues," D'Andrea begins with a playful, dissonant introduction before reverting to some delicious stride piano and eventually swing as well. The pianist's "Pres and Bix" incorporates excerpts of pieces like Beiderbecke's "In a Mist" and Young's "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid" in a compelling solo piano collage. This recording is a delight from start to finish.

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