The American pianist Hank Jones could, spanning his 65 year career, always be counted on for a joyful presence on the jazz scene, playing sparkling piano solos that uplifted every group that was wise enough to hire him. This set of previously unreleased music from June 6, 1983 puts the spotlight of one of the most consistent geniuses in jazz history.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Jazzhus Slukefter in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, was the site for a large number of live recordings release by Storyville. Hank Jones brought Danish bassist Mads Vinding with him, a bassist with a large sound, the ability to take very original solos, and a love for straight ahead jazz. The third name on the stage was drummer Shelly Mane, whose career was as prolific as Jones’, and who added color and life to every group. This 1983 concert consists of nine jazz standards. Jones takes the lion’s share of the solo spots, changing his style between that of a classical bebop pianist and other times swinging elegantly like Teddy Wilson. The masterful trio comes up with creative variations and give all the songs on the release rewardingly fresh treatments.
Hank Jones (1918-2010) was born in Mississippi and was an early inspiration for his two younger brothers, both of whom would become all-time greats: cornetist Thad Jones and drummer Elvin Jones. He immediately became part of the jazz major leagues once he relocated to New York where he embraced the bebop of Bud Powell without abandoning his roots in swing. Tasteful and lightly swinging, Hank Jones would always be thought of as a class act. His non-stop activity with countless bands, orchestras and musicians only ended when ageless Hank Jones passed away in 2010. Musically, he never declined.
The result of the 1983 Slukefter session is an enjoyable hour of music that, after sitting unheard for over 30 years, sounds as fresh as if it were recorded yesterday.
Hank Jones (P), Mads Vinding (B), Shelly Manne (DR)
Hank Jones disliked all categorization in music. Even the terms "jazz" and "bebop" were, he said, "degrading and destructive." He died at the age of 91 in 2010. The gently swinging, timeless elegance of his music is his memorial, no categories needed.
Chris Mosey, AllAboutJazz