Hank Jones was a consummate musician. As is so often the case, that description carries the implication that such a person is unflamboyant, somewhat reserved, and that their artistry is more appreciated by fellow workers than by the public. A Musicians musician.
Storyville now releases Hank Jones Live at Slukefter vol. 2 – the follow up to 2019’s vol. 1. Whereas vol. 1 was recorded at the legendary Copenhagen Jazz Club Slukefter on June 6th 1983, this recording is from the day after, June 7th. As on vol. 1 Jones is joined by Mads Vinding who worked with the Jones on several other visits to Europe, and recorded with him on at least one other occasion when in 1991 Jones was an invited guest to the JazzPar concerts (Hank Jones Trio, Storyville 1018416) and Shelly Manne, a close contemporary of Hank’s who was also associated with studio work in Los Angeles, even making a cameo appearance as a studio musician in the movie The Man With The Golden Arm.
The chosen songs on these recordings are very diverse, and support image of Jones as a musician with a huge knowledge of songs, both from within the Jazz world as well as contemporary pop music. The waltz ‘Emily’ was from the 1964 movie The Americanization Of Emily, one of the early successes in film scoring by former jazz musician Johnny Mandel. Jerome Kern’s ‘All The Things You Are’ was one of the few saving graces of a Broadway musical comedy that ran for only seven weeks in 1939, but was picked up by singers and instrumentalists immediately afterwards. ‘Yours Is My Heart Alone’, on the other hand, goes back even further to a 1929 operetta written by the composer Franz Lehár, who was Austro-Hungarian – hence its two slight different English-language titles – which was not adopted by jazz players until the late 1950s. Keen-eared listeners may also note, in Jones’s solo on the opening track, lightning-quick quotations from Chopin’s ‘Poloniase Militaire’ and the 1930s song ‘If I Should Lose You’, among many other allusions during this programme.
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 an ageless Hank Jones passed away in 2010. Musically, he never declined.
The result of the 1983 Slukefter session Vol. 2 is an enjoyable hour of music that, after sitting unheard for over 30 years, sounds as fresh as if it were recorded yesterday