My favorite aspect of Hank Jones's playing is his sweet and romantic touch. When I listen to him play, I feel like I'm hearing a man who has an unbeatably hopeful outlook on life despite the horrific hardships he's experienced. I get something very personal from him that I don't get from any other jazz pianist. He isn't a virtuoso player in the way someone like Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson is, but the direction his musicianship goes is delectable to listen to; he is incredibly inventive with his harmonies and uses them to give the melodies unforgettable colors and provide context for really interesting improvisations. To me, this album personifies his strengths the most.
Simply put, every track on this album is great, but my favorite is his reworking of "The Very Thought of You." His right hand delicately and gracefully gives us this sweet melody in the upper register of the piano, while he introduces splendid harmonic substitutions to give it even more color. It is so spacious and introverted that it evokes a profound longing.
Jones knows how to deliver a personal touch on any standard he plays with his harmonic colors. Even the often-played "What Is This Thing Called Love?" is given a refreshing makeover. He takes his time to explore the harmonies when playing the melody, and his solos are well-informed by the changes he makes, giving us interesting textural changes rather than keeping it the same.
One thing that makes him unique is his embracing of Bebop music. A lot of pianists of his generation, including Oscar Peterson, preferred to stay with pre-bop jazz and the great American songbook, but not Hank Jones. He demonstrates this not just with the harmonic and melodic content of his solos, but by performing two Thelonious Monk compositions, "Blue Monk" and "Round Midnight." His lyrical touch lends itself well to these pieces as he makes them his own.
In summation, I would say that anyone who wants to hear a refreshing and personal take on solo piano jazz should consider this one. It's not just for Hank Jones fans; I think it CREATES Hank Jones fans.