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Daniel A

Hank Jones

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In my opinion Hank Jones is one of the finest jazz pianists. I've recently acquired several of his 50s and 60s dates for Savoy, Capitol and Argo, and I think they are among the most enjoyable I've heard within the idiom. (On a sidenote: many of them seem to be a bit oddly programmed, for example starting with a couple of ballads)

Within what idiom, one could ask. Certain elements of Hank's playing are certainly pre-bop, but to label him a swing pianist does not sound right at all. What I recently have been noticing more and more is that behind his delicate touch, his voicings, especially when comping behind other soloists, are more complex than it may initially appear.

I've heard people accusing him of being lightweight, but those certainly don't look far beyond his touch, which in my opinion is one of the most elegant among jazz pianists.

These are, so far, my favorites from Hank's earlier recordings. I've still to hear most of his work from the 70s and 80s.

* 'Here's Love' (Argo, 1963) Wonderful quartet date with Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton and Elvin Jones

* 'Have You Met Hank Jones?' (Savoy 1955) A solo piano album, which displays how thoughtfully he could play.

The other 50s Savoys are enjoyable, but perhaps not as a whole fully satisfying. I've just started to listen to 'Porgy and Bess' and 'The Talanted Touch' (both on Capitol), so I haven't yet formed an opinion on those two.

Any other Hank Jones admirers out there? I seem to recall that Lon has put in a word for Hank on some occasion.

(And Hank was Duke Pearson's favorite pianist, too :) )

Edited by Daniel A

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Yes Daniel - count me in as a Hank Jones admirer. As far as more recent recodings go, "The Oracle" with Dave Holland and Billy Higgins is (IMHO) a real gem.

Going back further, there are a couple of piano duo releases that I'm very fond of; "An Evening with Two Grand Pianos" with John Lewis (vinyl only) and "Our Delights" with Tommy Flanagan. The latter was released in CD format, but don't know if it's OOP. Both of these are beautiful, elegant recordings - timeless.

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Thanks for the recommendations, James! I will certainly look out for the duo albums, a somewhat underrated concept. Some people seem to look at piano duo projects as mere gimmicks, just one step ahead of "21 bones", or even "101 strings"-type albums.

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Oh! And forgot to mention that Hank is coming to my town with George Mraz and Dennis Mackrel in a couple of months. Will I be there? DAMN STRAIGHT!!

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The disc Hank did with Elvin and George Mraz (Verve) which featured the compositions of brother Thad is one of my all time favourites (name alludes me). Love of this disc made me pre order the Thad BN Mosaic.

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Speaaking of Hank/Thad, my "favorite" Hank Jones on record is a perhaps odd choice - Dexter Gordon's CA'PURUNGE on Prestige. Not so much for his solos, which are fine enough, but for his accompaniments. He really lays out some thick, somewhat dissonant chords in his comp that very much resemble Thad's big band voicings. It's far from Dexter's best effort, but I find myself listening to the album more and more just to hear Hank's comp.

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I just praised the Savoy solo LP for his beautiful touch and the equally beautiful sound in the Audio Talk section.

The Trio LP with Wendell Marshall and Kenny Clarke on Savoy is among my favourite, as is any date he and Klook played together, a great team, and kind of the Savoy house rhythm section with changig bassists, Marshall, Eddie Jones, Paul Chambers ...

The duets with John Lewis are priceless. I have a Japanese direct cut LP they did for Toshiba in 1979, with some duets, trios and quartets, with George Duvivier and Shelly Manne, great stuff, well worth the search.

I also recommend the RCA LP of the Donald Byrd - Gigi Gyce Jazz Lab Quintet, where he digs in with a lot more energy than usual, with excellent results. One of the most consistent jazz pianist of all time, and a great example on how to retain virtues of the swing era while opening up to modern developments!

What's wrong about some ballads to open an album? I often feel like being pushed into a corner when it starts with a high energy number. I like if if one takes his time to pick the listener up at slow or medium tempo instead of having him jump onto a fast train at full speed!

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I too, admire of Hank Jones, and could easily have counted him among my five favorite pianists in a previous thread.

A couple of good Hank Jones CD's on Concord

- Solo at Maybeck

- Lazy Afternoon, a quartet with Ken Peplowski, Dave Holland, and Keith Copeland

Also, though I don't own it, I remember hearing Grover Washington Jr.'s All My Tomorrow's CD a few years ago and marvelling at Hank's wonderful work on that disc.

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I really admire Hank Jones, especially the fifties work. The "Hank Jones Quartet" on Savoy with Bobby Jaspar is a real delight. I also like the Savoy "Trio" which is out on cd as if it were a Kenny Clarke release. . . that was recorded in Hackensack the afternoon I was born (in Canton)!

His touch was so precise and pristine. . .it does tend to make some think of him as lightweight in the jazz department but as the originator of the thread has so rightly said: t'ain't so; his ideas are heavy, deceptively so. I'd give a lot to be able to play that way!

Here's hoping more of his fifties sides see the reissue light of day---there are still a few that could get the treatment. And his Impulses are absent as well. . . .

Those Jones brothers. . .you can't ignore ANY of them!

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The AMG lists a date called 'Hank Jones Swings "Gigi"' on Golden Crest records. I've searched in vain for information on this album - does anyone know anything about it?

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Hank Jones is also one of my favorite pianoplayers (along with Tommy Flanagan).

I have several recordings with Hank J., and there are two that I will recommend strongly.

Hank Jones Master Class, that has the contenst of two LP's "Bop Redux" & "Groovin' High", it's on 32Jazz, so it's probably OOP.

The other one is on the danish label Storyville "Hank Jones Trio" recorded in Copenhagen in 1991 in connection with The Jazzpar project of that year, with some unusual tunes for Hank J., "Pent Up House(Rollins)", "Bloomdido (Parker)", "Bemsha Swing (Monk)"

Vic

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Me dummyhead sold the two Muse Lps before I held the 32Jazz reissue in my hands. It went oop before I could order it. Great stuff.

Just looked up that GIGI LP in the Bruyninckx disco but couldn't find it, but I noticed there was a companion Hank Jones trio session cut at the same session as the direct cut with John Lewis I mentioned above. Was on CD as well. Must be great stuff, and very well recorded.

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JSngry - I understand completely about your "odd choice." Mike Wofford, an undersung monster of the piano is such an artful comper that he can (unintentionally) distract my attention from a soloist.

jazzbo - your use of the word *was* leads me to ask - you are aware that Hank is still with us?

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I'm a big fan of Steal Away, a Verve album of duets with Charlie Haden, mostly old spirituals and so on, but also Danny Boy.

I have very little of Hank under his own name, but adore what he does on Somethin' Else, especially Autumn Leaves.

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He's coming to the SF Jazz Fest soon and I keep meaning to pick up tickets. I think this is a must-see show. I may never get another chance to see him.

No one has mentioned "The Great Jazz Trio". Some great music there - most often with Ron Carter and Tony Williams. I have four of them which are ALL good:

"At The Village Vanguard"

"Milestones"

"Love For Sale" - a 45 RPM direct-to-disk set on East Wind with Buster Williams on bass

"New Wine in Old Bottles" with the addition of Jackie McLean

To my knowledge none of these have been released on CD. What's up with THAT?

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Hank Jones is such a beautiful, elegant, and quietly accomplished player. He's one of those guys, like his fellow Michigan pianist, the late Tommy Flanagan, who IMO has made even better recordings in the latter part of his career than he did earlier on (some of which have been mentioned here -- I especially love the Haden session).

He's also a very very nice man if you catch him in the right mood. I surely remember one night a few years back at the original Iridium when my wife and I were just about the only people left in the club for the late set and he called us right down front and then, seeing how much we had been enjoying the music for the past several hours, he bought US a couple of drinks! Wonderful.

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If i remember correctly besides all of his other accomplisments, Hank was the first AfroAmerican to be hired to a full time staff position by the major TV networks back in the day. CBS i think.

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I also recommend the RCA LP of the Donald Byrd - Gigi Gyce Jazz Lab Quintet, where he digs in with a lot more energy than usual, with excellent results.

Is this the album listed as "New Formulas from the Jazz Lab" at the AMG?

Thanks for trying to find info on the 'Swings "Gigi"' album. I wonder if it may in fact be some semi-legitimate release of Gryce's RCA album.

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Golden Crest was (is?) an eclectic Long Island based label that specialized in classical and band music, but one that also released calliope recordings, "how to use your tape recorder" type instructional records, and other "oddball" material. I don't know if they're the same Golden Crest that released The Wailers "Tall Cool One", but a little websearch suggests that it is. The only other jazz recording I know of them releasing was a 70s thing by Carmine Leggio. The Jones session was probably done specifically for Golden Crest, that would be my guess. Long Islands's funny that way.

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the duets with John Lewis are on CD, an Atlantic Original Sound reissue. (i love them)

ubu

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Thanks, Jim, for filling me in on the Golden Crest label! I suppose that's a record I'll never come across, though...

I also thought your observation that Hank's voicings had similarities to Thad's arranging was spot-on! I haven't heard that particular Gordon album, but "somewhat dissonant chords" is a very good description of what I like so much with his voicings. And they're often in a lower register than most of the other pianist's of the time.

It seems that Hank has never been looked upon as anything else than a rather traditional player, but his chording in the mid 50s sometimes sounds rather advanced, if one listens closely.

I wonder if he was pidgeon-holed as a "lightweight" already in the 50s. Anyone with a long memory around? (I ask because the liners of "The Talented Touch" from 1958 states that "His work will stand up under the scrutiny of the most critical of jazzophiles; yet it makes for perfect light listening, since it's all easy and lyrical")

And a question for Lon: You said that his Impulses are absent. The only Hank Jones Impulse album I know of is the dismal "Happenings", which features him mainly on electrical harpsichord. Are there more of him on that label?

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Hank Jones is class personified!

This thread is a nice complement to the Lucky Thompson thread. Thompson and Jones always sounded fantastic together on those Prestige recordings.

Another nice recent one (there are so many) is the early-90s trio date on Storyville with Mads Vinding and Al Foster.

I often play Hank Jones trio dates when guests are over. They have such a warm and inviting feeling about them. I avoid this Storyville date, however, because I always end up so wrapped up in the music that I risk offending the guests. ;)

Edited by John L

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Duke, that may possibly be the only one. . . that is the one that I know of. It's . . . different. I've learned to like it.

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Then I might learn to like it too!

I know we had radically different opinions regarding Duke Pearson's 'How Insensitive', but nowadays I find myself listening to it once in a while!

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Happenings was Hank's only Impulse date as a leader (what were he,Thiele and Oliver Nelson smokin' that day?), but he was a sideman on a number of nice Impulse dates. A few that come to mind are Milt Jackson's Statements,Ben Webster's See You At The Fair and Salt And Pepper by Stitt/Gonsalves. Im sure there were others that i am forgetting.

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