Plays Well With Others

Mike Jones—the pianist, not the rapper—is a new name to me and, after listening to this CD (his sixth), a very welcome one. The highly tattooed 51-year-old plays two-handed piano in the tradition of long gone masters from the pre-bop era. In his hands, one is reminded that above all, the piano is a percussive instrument—and that lesson is served up on the first track, a novel arrangement of “Bésame Mucho.” Very ably joined by bassist Mike Gurrola and the veteran Jeff Hamilton on drums, Jones toys with the theme, reducing it to a series of stops and starts before showing what he can do with his two hands and 88 keys—which, as it turns out, is plenty. The disc’s repertoire is drawn from the Great American Songbook with Jones et al. getting into high gear on “September Song” and “I’m Old Fashioned,” plus lesser-known items like “’Deed I Do,” “It’s a Wonderful World” and “Day by Day.” Jones has also revived “I Thought About You” and “I Know Why and So Do You,” both of which receive luxuriously relaxed performances. Two tasty blues by Jones are the only originals. This is a magnificent effort by all three men; piano hounds are hereby put on alert.