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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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EDDIE THOMPSON, etc.

Piano Moods

Vocalion CDNJT 5311

 

 


Eddie Thompson Trio
1. Body and Soul

Eddie Thompson - Piano
Benny Goodman - Drums
Barry Hamilton - Bass

2. Perdido
3. Rose Room

Eddie Thompson - Piano
Allan Ganley - Drums
Bill Sutcliffe - Bass

4. Iíve Got a Pocketful of Dreams
5. Leverís Leap
6. Mobile
7. Everything Happens to Me

Eddie Thompson - Piano
Jack Fallon - Bass
Cedric West - Guitar

Dave Lee Trio
8. Excuse for the Blues
9. On the Alamo

Dave Lee - Piano
Lennie Bush - Bass
Allan Ganley - Drums

Dennis Wilson Trio
10. Ellington Medley: "C" Jam Blues, Take the "A" Train, Drop Me Off in Harlem, Donít Get Around Much Anymore

Dennis Wilson - Piano
Jack Llewellyn - Guitar
Frank Clarke - Bass

Dill Jones Trio
11. Opus Caprice
12. Yesterdays
13. In a Mist
14. Rufus

Dill Jones - Piano
Frank Clarke - Bass
Eddie Taylor - Drums

Dill Jones Quintet
15. Easy
16. Paulís Pal
17. Rayís Blues
18. Jordu

Dill Jones - Piano
Ray Premru - Bass trumpet
Duncan Lamont - Tenor sax
Don Lawson - Drums
Spike Heatley - Bass

Dill Jones Trio
19. Moonglow
20. íDeed I Do
21. Viperís Drag

Dill Jones - Piano
Major Holley - Bass
Phil Seamen - Drums

 

I am so old that I can remember the EP - a form of extended-play record which was around from the 1950s for several decades, and was like a single (with a diameter of seven inches) but usually contained four tracks instead of two. It virtually disappeared when the compact disc arrived, but it was a useful type of record as it offered the chance to sample an artist's work without making musicians feel that they had to produce enough tracks to fill a CD.

In the 1950s, quite a number of EPs were issued under the title Piano Moods, and this CD assembles several of them to remind us about four of the top British pianists of that period.

First up is Eddie Thompson, who studied the piano at the same time and at the same schools as George Shearing (the Lindon Lodge School for the Blind in Wandsworth and later in Swiss Cottage). Like Shearing, he emigrated to the USA, but for a shorter period: from 1962 to 1972. He became well-loved as a resourceful pianist who (like George Shearing) had a likeable sense of humour. This humour is evident in several tracks here - most notably in Body and Soul, which includes references to Barwick Green (the theme tune for the radio serial The Archers), Yes, We Have No Bananas, How Much is That Doggie in the Window? and a famous newsreel signature tune. Eddie's passion for quotations leads him astray in Perdido, where a quote from Pretty Baby is fumbled. But these tracks illustrate not only his playfulness but also his expert technique.

Dave Lee is a pianist who possibly became better known as a composer and arranger, writing music for films, TV and revues (including Goodness Gracious Me for Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren!). His two mid-tempo tracks here betray the strong influence of Erroll Garner. Dennis Wilson contributes a medley of four tunes associated with the Duke Ellington band. He performs them with a certain amount of elaboration, but the presence of guitarist Jack Llewellyn adds some welcome variety after continuous trios of piano, bass and drums.

More than half the album's 21 tracks are devoted to Dill Jones, another British pianist who emigrated to the States (he lived in New York from 1961 until his death in 1984). The first four tracks from Dill are by his trio and exemplify his wide range of tastes and styles: a tune by Al Haig (Opus Caprice), a standard (Jerome Kern's Yesterdays), a classic from the 1920s (Bix Beiderbecke's In a Mist) and an original composition (Rufus). Dill takes In a Mist at a more measured pace than Bix's original, with some different flourishes.

More variety is provided by the addition of extra members to Dill Jones's trio for tracks 15 to 18. The main attractions in this line-up are the glorious tenor sax of Duncan Lamont and the trombone-like bass trumpet of Ray Premru. Paul's Pal is a tune by Sonny Rollins which sounds strangely familiar to me, although I can't place why. Perhaps it's just from hearing it on Sonny's album Tenor Madness; it is certainly a memorable piece. The quintet's version of Jordu hasn't quite got the bite of the classic interpretation by Max Roach and Clifford Brown. The drums here and elsewhere tend to be recorded very low in the mix, which dulls the impact of some tracks.

The album finishes with three more tunes by the Dill Jones Trio, including a comparatively fast version of Moonglow, which demonstrates the drive and imagination of Dill's piano playing. And Viper's Drag proves his facility in stride piano.

This album is a salutary reminder of the talent among British pianists of the 1950s - a talent which is often overlooked.

Tony Augarde



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