Larry Wills is just so adept at the art of interprettation. There are so many nuance and embellishments that he makes even the most often played standards, new again.
Here Larry teams with master bassist Eddie Gomez and the outstanding but underrated Billy Drummond. This is one great rhythm section here. On 3 of the pieces he features longtime associate and TDWRs Joe Ford on sax and trombonist Steve Davis.
Joe has worked with Larry before and has that range of playing sensitively and with great power. Steve Davis has marvelous tone, a sense of swing and can out-and-out play!!!
I love this recording's version of 'Rhythm-A-Ning'. It's wide open and features the trio's strongest assets. Larry's solo is unique in it's approach. Complex, subtle, swinging, with a sense of space. Larry has this keen sense of placement. He knows exactly the best way to phrase things with a sense of implication. By that I mean is that he inserts a shading or a hue that cast things in a diffent light, at the risk of mixing my metaphors. Eddie Gomez has such a vivid imagination. He swings hard on this and when his moment comes he delivers a unique and interesting solo. Billy Drummond starts the piece out with a musical solo. Some times drummers come in full force, with in blaze of double and single stroke ferocity, that often times have nothing to do with melody or the piece to follow. Billy solo, introduces the piece perfectly. He then keeps thing swinging while encouraging the others with his drumming.
'Never Let Me Go' - is perfect example of Larry's ballad artistry. Like Ellington he always fine these voicings and spaces out the notes in a certain way that you don't hear other pianists do. This is a real highpoint on this recording.
'Nardis' - Larry has recorded this before and it's no less compelling here on this recording with this trio and their reading of it. Very, very good. The dynamics of this one is quite different from the previous version he recorded on "Let's Play" (an outstanding recording, one of his best). Here it Eddie's bass literally sings in unison with Larry's piano. The interplay is startling. This particular version is stark in it's beauty. Billy Drummond shows how sensitive he is to the subtle shifts and changes in this composition. His drumming on this should be shown as an example to all aspiring young drummers on how to play in a trio perfectly. Eddie takes a marvelous bass solo here. Very, very imaginative and during the solos on this piece, there is this interplay, this dialog that constantly going and evolving thought the piece and this recording.
'Who's Kidding Who' - Is another reinterpretation. This is one of my favorite pieces that Larry's performed in the past. A very touching ballad.
"Prayer for New Orleans" - is also a favorite. I love the horn unison passages. It's starts out with this bittersweet prayer of a horn passage and then promptly segues into a mid-tempo piece. Both Joe Ford and Steve Davis shine beautifully on this cut. It's one of those soulful pieces with that soulful Horace Silver thing going. Larry comes in after Joe Ford's solo in perfect contrast. Billy Drummond's drumming is superb here. Gives it exactly what it needs. He drives it along without overpowering the piece nor the other players.
I could go on and on breaking down the cuts but let me just say that this is recording worth getting. It's an outstanding line up, with a good selection of pieces, played to the utmost by a great group of musicians.
The trio pieces in this recording are so good that I can only hope that Larry will also choose to record one more session with just the trio.