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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Jazz Piano Legends

Jaz2 Creative J2C 0701



1. Night Train
2. Misty
3. Take Five
4. Tea for Two
5. Jitterbug Waltz
6. Lullaby of Birdland
7. 'Round Midnight
8. Bouncing with Bud

9. Waltz for Debby
10. Maple Leaf Rag
11. Song for my Father
12. My Song

13. Single Petal of a Rose
14. Armando’s Rhumba
15. Search for Peace
16. Watermelon Man
Geoff Eales - Piano
Roy Babbington - Bass
Mark Fletcher - Drums

For some time, Geoff Eales and his trio have been touring jazz venues with a programme called "Jazz Piano Legends". It reminds listeners of many of the great jazz pianists and it has now found its way onto this CD. Geoff doesn't always try to imitate the pianists whose work he is reflecting, although Misty has hints of Erroll Garner's characteristic beat and Tea for Two contains several echoes of Art Tatum. Most tracks sound more like Geoff Eales than the pianists he is referencing (Jitterbug Waltz has little about it that is Walleresque) but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as the CD might otherwise have become one of those dreadful imitative "tribute" albums.

No, this album is a fine example of Geoff Eales's playing with his trio, with solid backing from bassist Roy Babbington and drummer Mark Fletcher. And it exhibits all Geoff's strengths - from his extrovert two-handed style to his gentler moods. In the sleeve-note, Eales says that Oscar Peterson was "the pianist who exercised the biggest influence on me as a child" and Geoff shares Oscar's ability to use a formidable technique to arouse great excitement. I love it when he doesn't hold back but attacks the piano with fierce enthusiasm, as he does when he gets warmed up in Night Train and in Bouncing With Bud - the latter starting with Bud Powell's right-hand lines but soon grooving strongly with both hands.

On these tracks he sounds rather different from how he came across on his last album, Epicentre, which I reviewed here last year. Yet there are lots of quieter moments, as in his judicious tribute to Bill Evans with Waltz for Debby and his delicate interpretations of Keith Jarrett's My Song and Duke Ellington's Single Petal of a Rose. The album illustrates Geoff's versatility. He seems to be able to play anything - and his long and varied experience explains why this is possible.

Tony Augarde


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