Changes Over Time gives the impression that our ears need to prepare for abject nostalgia but that’s rarely the case on this disc. The twelve works – performed to vibrant effect by Jon Davis, and Davis’ colleagues – Ugonna Okegwo and Jochen Rueckert – go down well beyond the sentimental sonorities, exploring myriad moods and registrations.
For celebratory brightness, there’s Mal Waldron’s Soul Eyes and Just For Fun, which is followed by the contrasting melancholia of the pianist’s version of Las Olas, a beautifully poetic chart that, when played, conjures up visions of the pirouetting and leaping movements of a ballet dancer before the dénouement of the piece touches the heart-strings. Other songs have powerful and expansive narratives that result in the manifestations of imposing manifestations and a panoply of instrumental colours. So vivid are these colours that it feels as if this extraordinary pianist is indulging in muted vocalisations on his beloved instrument.
The piano welcomes partners in Okegwo and Rueckert, a jazzy and lyrical teaming of bass and drums which unites those rhythm instruments with the grand stylistics of the piano. Jon Davis is such a lyrical player himself that it isn’t hard to feel the ‘singing’ quality of his playing. The urgent dramaturgy of his music goes against the pastoral grain of his paginations of the vertical integrations of chord and melodic lines. His touch is flawless and his dynamic is fluttering and delicate. Despite this sensitivity Davis makes use of sinuous ornaments and majestic voicing. Davis provides a vast timbral playground, deftly rendered by his musicianship notably his brilliant instrumentalism (displayed with stunning effect on the solo version of the Beatles Yesterday), all of which is exquisitely captured by producer Marc Free and his trusted engineer Nick O’Toole.
These performances are models of vibrancy and control. The notables (songs) on this recording could hardly have better champions than Jon Davis, Ugonna Okegwo and Jochen Rueckert. The recording of each of these songs captures the grandeur and character – in all its subtlety – of the three virtuosos. Well done Posi-Tone Records.
Track List: Soul Eyes; Just For Fun; Las Olas; Changes Over Time; Yesterday; Klutz; Jazz Vampire; The Peacocks; It’s For Free; My Cherie Amour; Slowly But Surely; Waltz For U.
Personnel: Jon Davis: piano; Ugonna Okegwo: bass: Jochen Rueckert: drums.
Label: Posi-Tone Records
Release date: December 2015
Running time: 54:30