Solid playing, lousy sound quality
The veteran jazz pianist rolled tape while playing a gig in Palm Springs about 15 months ago, and has now released that set on CD. It's top-notch straight-ahead piano trio jazz, with Pickens' facile touch on the keys anchoring the groove but the listening experience is hurt by a very thin sound and noticeable background hiss.
Backed by the equally talented and engaged Marshall Hawkins on bass and Harold Mason on drums, Pickens tackles nine standards, ranging from Gershwin ("They Can't Take That Away From Me," "Lady Be Good") to Loesser ("I've Never Been In Love Before," "If I Were a Bell") to Jobim and Porter. Each track is given a nice, extended take, with some wonderfully inspired soloing by Pickens and lovely interplay between all three musicians.
The recording quality, unfortunately, is far below the quality of the playing. Thin, with almost no low end, it sounds as if it was recorded off a single mic, and not a very good one at that.
Fans of Hawkins or Pickens will find this album worth having; the recording quality will make it a bit of chore to listen to for anyone else.
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