Pianist Jaki Byard's first recording as a leader was not released domestically until this 1988 CD. That fact seems strange for Byard is absolutely brilliant on the solo piano set. Many of his selections (all nine tunes are his originals) look both backwards to pre-bop styles and ahead to the avant-garde including such numbers as "Pete and Thomas (Tribute to the Ticklers)," "Spanish Tinge No. 1," and "One, Two, Five." The most remarkable selection is "Jaki's Blues Next" which has Byard alternating between James P. Johnson-type stride and free form à la Cecil Taylor; at its conclusion he plays both styles at the same time. A highly recommended outing from a very underrated pianist.
A rare treat from soulful reed player Sonny Fortune – a session recorded in 1987 in New York, but only ever issued by the Japanese Why Not label. Fortune's alto has this incredibly sharp tone – searching and yearning with a sound that's as great as that heard on any of his 70s recordings. The group's a quartet with Renee Rosnes on piano – but the real talents on the record are Sonny's, as he spiritually blows his way through original compositions like "Real Knowing", "Space In Time", and "5/4 Train", plus an incredible reading of Bronislaw Kaper's "Invitation".
The cultured piano style of Kenny Barron has graced many albums in the last half century. He is an easy swinger deeply admired for his nonpareil musicianship and innate sensitivity to the needs of his musical companions of the moment. Born in 1943 he was gigging with Philly Joe Jones at sixteen and soon playing in a band with his tenor saxist brother Bill. In 1962 he was hired by Dizzy Gillespie and the five year stint he had with Dizzy established him firmly on the jazz scene throughout the world.