David Hazeltine is one of New York City's busiest jazz pianists and he has also attracted attention overseas, having recorded for a number of European and Japanese labels in addition to this work in the U.S. Producer Tetsuo Hara became particularly enamored with Hazeltine and has recorded him on a regular basis for his Venus label; this outing is a tribute to the great pianist/composer Bill Evans, recorded in late 1998. It's a challenge to play Evans' compositions without a certain degree of his influence in a piano trio setting, but that doesn't really matter, as the three musicians keep the music fresh, even if there is nothing innovative about their approach. Vetran bassist George Mraz is a veteran of many sessions as a sideman for Venus, and drummer Billy Drummond is also a first-call player, while both fit the mold of musicians who would have complemented Evans himself. Hazeltine never attempts to outright copy Evans' playing style, beginning with a breezy "Waltz for Debby" that percolates with energy. Ballads are always an acid test for jazz musicians, and Hazeltine's treatment of the bittersweet "Time Remembered" brings out the lyricism of this beautiful work. Mraz is showcased in good light in the challenging "Funkallero." Hazeltine has one solo feature, the intricate original "Bill at Peace," in which the late pianist's influence is readily apparent. The audio throughout this enjoyable session is superb, giving the listener the feeling of sitting a few feet away from the trio in the studio.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden