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Thread: Who are your favourite pianists - any genre?

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    Member Tharmas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    Bill Evans just doesn't do it for me, outside of his work with Miles. I know he's a huge, respected figure in jazz, but I find his music dull -- even the famous Village Vanguard set. He just doesn't convey to me the blues and swing components of jazz. (Lenny Tristano does the same to me.) Art Tatum exhausts me -- the excess decoration is beyond my capacity to listen, unless he's dueting with a horn player.
    I tend toward earthier, bluesier players: Red Garland, Junior Mance (still around at age 90 -- check out his live trio set from the Vanguard of '60 or '61), McCoy Tyner (Uptown/Downtown is a rousing hellacious album, also Live at Sweet Basil), Elmo Hope, Sonny Clark (especially Leapin and Lopin), Horace Parlan, Kenny Barron (one of the best accompanists ever, listen to him accompany Stan Getz at his very last gigs in People Time, a gut-wrenching set), Jaki Byard (a real freak before freak was an 'in' word, look for The Jaki Byard Experience with Roland Kirk), Mal Waldron (especially The Git Go), and the unsung Phineas Newborn (I hope everyone gets to hear The Great Jazz Piano of Phineas Newborn set). I love Oscar Peterson too, especially his live stuff -- at Montreaux he led some thunderous jams. And one more out of left field, Mingus, who on Oh Yeah plays only piano -- the album is a wild jazz orgy that sounds like it could've been recorded in a whorehouse or a backwoods juke -- everyone is flying and Mingus is hooting, singing, chanting, and playing some fine downhome piano. Now that's jazz. And how could I leave out Sun Ra???
    I've been able to check out some of your suggestions. Listened to Mingus' Ah Um which has one track where he contributes via keyboard. Liked it much. Then tried Oh Yeah. Some of it I really liked, and some of it I'll have to listen to a few more times to really know what I think. Listened to some Jaki Byard - Out Front and The Jaki Byard Experience - liked them both a lot. Like McCoy Tyner Uptown/Downtown. Liked Red Garland's Piano and added his Red in Bluesville which I liked a lot. It's traditional 8 and 12 bar blues taken into a jazz dimension. Started with some Sun Ra, but I'm not sure what's good (there's a lot). I tried Somewhere Else and liked it fine. So thanks for the suggestions. I'll be tracking down some more.

    One thing about Sun Ra. Almost thirty years ago I had a job in a run-down office park that was shaped like two strip malls facing each other across a parking lot. The office opposite to us seemed like some kind of studio, but I never looked into it. Frequently in the afternoons a Volvo with "Sun Ra" vanity plates would park outside and still be there when we closed at five thirty. I thought it was pretty cool although at the time I only had a vague idea who Sun Ra was. Recently I've looked into it a bit but can find no evidence that Sun Ra ever lived and/or recorded in Dallas. This would have been mid to late '80s.

    My son recommended a contemporary pianist named Brad Mehldau who turns out to be interesting.

  2. Top | #32
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    Thanks. You're right about Sun Ra. There's so much out there that it's a puzzle. And, before I heard a note he played, I thought he was a "culty" sort of player -- an acquired taste to the extreme and probably avant garde for the sake of being avant garde. I still don't own a ton of Sun Ra, but a good place to start is one of his earliest releases, Jazz in Silhouette, from the mid-50s. Some of it is mainstream, and it's extremely well-done. Another fun one, released in 2010, is
    The College Tour Vol. One, from a '66 tour. Very spirited, much less form-bound than Silhouette, and with an engagingly goofy humor. A couple of years ago I got one of the Classic Album packages on Sun Ra from the English label Real Gone Jazz, which is a nice cheap way to get multiple titles. Don't know if that one is easy to find anymore.

  3. Top | #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    Bill Evans just doesn't do it for me, outside of his work with Miles. I know he's a huge, respected figure in jazz, but I find his music dull -- even the famous Village Vanguard set. He just doesn't convey to me the blues and swing components of jazz. (Lenny Tristano does the same to me.) Art Tatum exhausts me -- the excess decoration is beyond my capacity to listen, unless he's dueting with a horn player.
    I tend toward earthier, bluesier players: Red Garland, Junior Mance (still around at age 90 -- check out his live trio set from the Vanguard of '60 or '61), McCoy Tyner (Uptown/Downtown is a rousing hellacious album, also Live at Sweet Basil), Elmo Hope, Sonny Clark (especially Leapin and Lopin), Horace Parlan, Kenny Barron (one of the best accompanists ever, listen to him accompany Stan Getz at his very last gigs in People Time, a gut-wrenching set), Jaki Byard (a real freak before freak was an 'in' word, look for The Jaki Byard Experience with Roland Kirk), Mal Waldron (especially The Git Go), and the unsung Phineas Newborn (I hope everyone gets to hear The Great Jazz Piano of Phineas Newborn set). I love Oscar Peterson too, especially his live stuff -- at Montreaux he led some thunderous jams. And one more out of left field, Mingus, who on Oh Yeah plays only piano -- the album is a wild jazz orgy that sounds like it could've been recorded in a whorehouse or a backwoods juke -- everyone is flying and Mingus is hooting, singing, chanting, and playing some fine downhome piano. Now that's jazz. And how could I leave out Sun Ra???
    All this time spent listening to Evans when I could have been listening to those listed above. Think you've changed my taste.

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