Mike Longo - To My Surprise - CAP Records - Jazzbeat.com
Out now is a new CD (TO MY SURPRISE) by longtime jazz pianist Mike Longo, who has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Krupa, Nancy Wilson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Paul Chambers, Clark Terry, Zoot Sims, Buddy Rich and Roy Eldridge.
This album features jazz stalwarts Bob Cranshaw on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. Cranshaw has played with Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul; and Lewis Nash has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, the Tommy Flanagan Trio, Betty Carter, Sonny Rollins, Oscar Peterson, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Lovano and Ron Carter.
On half of the CD, Longo brings in two renowned horn players -- Jimmy Owens on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Lance Bryant on tenor saxophone. Owens has worked with Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Maynard Ferguson, Thad Jones and countless others. Lance Bryant has credits such as Lionel Hampton, Abdulah Ibrahim, Jon Hendricks and Phyllis Hyman.
The CD these illustrious players have put together is a wonder. They recorded it all together in the studio playing at the same time (totally old-school) with no overdubs. They carefully state the melodies at the beginning (and usually the end) of the tunes in the time-honored jazz manner before taking turns soloing. And those solos. Nothing is way out there or over-the-top. This is simply straight-ahead jazz exploration of the highest caliber with each guy staying in the pocket, but also pushing the internal swing in many little ways.
The music ranges from the uptempo (“A Picture of Dorian Mode,” “Eye of the Hurricane”) to the very slow (“Still Water,” “Magic Bluze” and “In The Wee Small Hours”). All of the interplay between the musicians is stellar and the soloing is head-shakingly good. This one is a keeper.