Michael Kanan (p), Ben Street (b), Tim Pleasant (d)
Bar code: 8427328420556
"It was a fortuitous and coincidental event that introduced me to Michael Kanans music. I first heard him as accompanist on a singers CD. Within four bars, I found I was drawn more to the pianist than to the singer.
Every now and then a CD will appear on which the player(s) examine the Lennie Tristano (et al) ouvre, More often than not - but certainly with some exception - these will be by musicians simply playing the head fairly correctly, then proceeding to blow on the changes to whatever standard the head was based on. I am happy to say that Kanan goes way beyond that - he is a warm and engaging pianist with taste, warmth, chops, feeling up the wazoo and the ability to get inside the tunes.
A Family Song is a piece by Sal Mosca (it appears on Warne Marsh and Sals How High, How Deep) which will fool you at first - youll think it is Tadd Damerons The Scene is Clean. But after four bars it goes its own way and is a sink-your-teeth-into bunch of changes to play on, especially the bridge. Kanan cruises along boyantly and this reviewer likes this version more than that of the composer.
When is the last time you heard Ghost of a Chance? For me, I think it was while listening to Prez a couple years ago. Kanan mines the beauty of this timeless Victor Young melody, playing it straight and lovingly with a gorgeous touch and singing tone.
The same treatment is given to Stardust but this presentation gives us a twist: he plays the chorus first, and then we get the verse - and its a bass solo! Refreshing. Victory Ball was a line Lennie composed on sWonderful for a Metronome All Stars record date in the early Fifties (raise your hand if you remember Metronome mag!) Here, Kanan follows the head-in with an alternative set of changes for blowing on. Why not? It works.
These tunes, and their Tristano School cousins, have been weaving in and out of my life for over 50 years, since I was one of Lennies first students during the Mesozoic Age. They have they never sounded better. Michael Kanan is a first rate jazz pianist who bears careful watching."
- George Ziskind (www.52ndstreet.com)