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



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LARRY WILLIS

This Time The Dream's On Me

HighNote HCD 7238

 

 

1. This Time The Dream's on Me
2. Sanctuary
3. True Love
4. Lazy Afternoon
5. A Single Petal of a Rose
6. Blues for Marco
7. It Could Happen to You
8. Lotus Blossom
9. Silly Blues
10. My Ship
 
Larry Willis - Solo Piano

It has been the case that sometimes various original jazz musicians have been overlooked by both the general public and their peer group. Larry Willis might be considered to fall into that category, despite being on the jazz scene since the 1960s and having developed a singular reputation as a session musician. With this latest release, Willis could re-energize this interest as he has delivered a thoughtful and beautifully engineered album.

Recorded in Sacile, Italy in November 2011 at the Fazioli Concert Hall on a Fazioli concert grand piano, Willis has put together a sparkling effort of ten compositions derived from jazz and popular standards, as well as three Willis originals. Leading off with the title-track, This Time The Dream's on Me, Willis demonstrates that he has a stylish command of the keyboard. Sanctuary, Blues for Marco and Silly Blues are the three original Willis compositions. On the first tune, there is a cerebral sense of serenity coupled with feeling of water flowing down a stream. As for the blues pieces, both are straightforward twelve-bar compositions, but display that Willis is really at home in this format, as he presents some earthy lines in both tunes.

Now while Willis may not have either the dazzling technique of an Oscar Peterson or the introspective lyricism of a Bill Evans, he evokes a cerebral confidence as he tackles the complexity of a couple of Ellington-associated delights, namely the Duke's own A Single Petal of a Rose and the Billy Strayhorn classic Lotus Blossom. Two other delectable gems grace the album. Firstly, the J. Moross/J. Latouche bittersweet Lazy Afternoon and the Kurt Weill story My Ship. In each case Willis shows off his passionate renderings and creativeness of these companion pieces, which also showcase the wonderful bold tone of the Fazioli concert grand.

Tackling a solo piano album is no small feat. The performer is left naked to the listening audience where every small fault may be magnified and there is no place to hide. Larry Willis need not fear any such repercussions as he has delivered a virtuoso performance.

Pierre Giroux



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