Ronnell Bright (p), Wilbur Wynne, Kenny Burrell (g), Leonard Gaskin, Joe Benjamin, Richard Davis (b), Willard Nelson, Bill Clark, Art Morgan (d)
Reference: FSRCD 541
Bar code: 8427328605410
Ronnell Bright is one of the most underrated jazz pianists of his generation. His classical background led him to approach the instrument with respect for its fullest potential, while much of his jazz apprenticeship was served with Chicagos Johnny Pate Trio. Brights virtues include an exuberant beat and a supple, pliant conception at medium and up-tempos, with a subtle tenderness in ballads. His playing is full of technical ease, with an expressively pianistic touch, and he can create fascinatingly complete statements when he digs in.
This compilation collects for the first time all of Ronnell Bright's trio recordings. The opening track was recorded in his Chicago hometown with two local musicians. The second date, his first as a leader, was done shortly after the pianist hit the Big Apple in 1956, with bassist Leonard Gaskin and guitarist Kenny Burrell; they provided very capable support, with Burrell in particular soloing well. The following sessions were with Joe Benjamin and Bill Clark, who integrated with skill and taste into his New York trio. The rewarding last session, with Richard Davis and Art Morgan, took place in Paris while Brights trio was accompanying Sarah Vaughan during the singers European tour in 1958.
"This drummerless piano trio dates from 1956 and is a gently swinging mix of bop and mainstream styles from talented pianist and composer Ronnell Bright. Not a household name, but Bright has worked with Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and other illuminaries. His compositions have been performed by an equally stellar collection of players. This collaboration with guitarist Kenny Burrell and bassist Leonard Gaskin is a slightly updated variation of the drummer-less Nat Cole and Ahmad Jamal trios, groups that also featured superb guitarists (Oscar Moore and Ray Crawford, respectively). Burrell's presence on this mix of standards and Bright originals is key. He is the engine that swings the set, making the date a memorable one with his exquisite ballad work, hot bebop lines, choicely voiced comping on the slower tunes, and driving chord flurries on the up-tempo numbers. Gaskin takes a background role, leaving Bright and Burrell room to maneuver. While this is a fine session from their leader, fans of the guitarist will especially want to seek it out. As with many of his appearances on Savoy dates, Burrell has a way of becoming the focal point. In this case, he does so with playing that stands among his finest recorded performances."
Jim Todd -All Music Guide