September 2000

Wynton Kelly - Piano
Released: 2000

by Marc Mickelson

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality *****
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on CD]It's piano-driven hard bop, but mostly Piano is a schizophrenic collection that's pushed along by some  inspired soloing from everyone involved. Half the album features a quartet that consists of Kelly, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones; the rest makes do without Jones’ drums.

"Action" is the whole disc in microcosm -- hot, happening and played to perfection. It's really drummer Philly Joe Jones' number, and he cooks on it. In addition to the original seven selections, this XRCD2 includes an alternate take of "Dark Eyes."

As is the mantra with XRCDs, this disc sounds outstanding. You've heard it before, many times; however, what's most startling here is the real-sounding, tight bass -- from a master-tape that's over 40-years old and mono! The opening few seconds of "Whisper Not," the first track on the disc, snapped my head around in disbelief. "Whoa. Bass," I said aloud. In what has become an XRCD hallmark, inner detail springs forth with speed and delicacy, not sounding at all hyped.

Piano is one of the very best-sounding of JVC's Riverside remasters, and the music is equally fine. If you are considering it or the earlier Wynton Kelly XRCD release, the better-known Kelly Blue [JVC JVCXR-0050-2], I will be heretical and suggest getting this one. Even better, get both. You’ll be surprised and delighted.