Marius Butch Nordal

Ways of the Hand

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The title of this album, Ways of the Hand, does not refer to the trickery of a clever magician. Rather, it describes the one of a kind styles and talents of the six piano artists to whom Marius "Butch" Nordal pays tribute on this, his second release for the Origin label. It's too bad that these tracks aren't arranged in chronological order so one can see the connection between the mannerisms of each as well as the development of the art of pianism. "Willow Weep for Me" captures Art Tatum's awesome technique and the way he could devour the entire keyboard, building chord upon chord as he dissects the tune he is playing. At the other end of the spectrum, there's "WTO Blues," in honor of R&B ace Henry Butler. In between, Nordal gives a nod to Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, and Fats Waller. Not every cut is a tribute track. The remaining five are vehicles for Nordal to parade his command on the keyboard, with a technique that's closer to Tatum than to Evans. He is sweeping and powerful on a dazzling, spirited rendition of his composition and title tune, "Ways of the Hand." He can also adopt a less flamboyant, lyrical approach, as on "Love." As with his initial release, Nordal brings top-flight players into the studio to work with. Bassist Bob Bowman and drummer John Bishop do yeoman work behind Nordal. Doug Miller shows up on one cut on bass, while Floyd Standifer contributes vocals on "Long Ago and Far Away" and "I Concentrate on You." Ways of the Hand is almost an hour of high-quality piano playing, and is recommended.

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