Horace Parlan

Relaxin' With Horace

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Pianist Horace Parlan has long dealt with the damage done to his right hand, which came from a childhood bout with polio, by developing a potent left hand. As a result, Parlan has never had the opportunity to play completely to the potential he would have had if spared his serious illness, though his recordings have been consistently rewarding. He was 73 years old at the time of this 2004 studio session, which features old friends Jesper Lundgaard on bass and drummer (and fellow expatriate) Ed Thigpen, yet one doesn't sense that age is cramping his style in the least. The focus is primarily on standards that aren't played much in the 21st century, generally low-key ballads, with Lundgaard's strong bassline and Thigpen's crisp brushwork in support of the leader. It is refreshing to hear a relaxed, choppy interpretation of a ballad such as "Like Someone in Love," which many artists have the tendency to rush through and destroy the melody. Parlan slows "Don't Take Your Love from Me" to a crawl in order to pack an emotional punch, without having a vocalist sing its maudlin lyrics. The pianist's "Love and Peace" has a bit of a wistful air, while Thigpen's "Blues for HP" is a good bit more intense than the remainder of the session, with the drummer returning to sticks and Parlan sounding a bit more playful. All in all, this is a remarkable effort by the trio.

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