Toshiko Akiyoshi: Cleopatra's Dream
Toshiko Akiyoshi (piano)
Remembering Bud (Evidence 22034-2)
Composed by Bud Powell.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 31-August 1, 1990
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Bud Powell's final Blue Note session as a leader (1958) featured several memorable originals, including the minor cooker "Cleopatra's Dream." His performance was notable for its octave unison passages, and possessed a steady, inexorable momentum. Akiyoshi, who considers Powell her mentor (a photo of them sitting together in New York in 1964 is reprinted within the CD notes), creatively rearranges the piece. Bowed bass and reflective piano notes lead to an étude-type interlude, followed by an alluring vamp that flows directly into Powell's theme, played in a stop-and-start fashion with a punchy, almost Latin rhythmic pulse. Toshiko then shifts into overdrive, with fluid, dancing lines played with a light touch, some of her phrases executed with considerable technical flair. The always brilliant Nash takes a series of fiery solo breaks as he interacts with the pianist, succeeded by Drummond's deeply intoned, compelling bass improv. Akiyoshi provides still more elaborately woven runs before returning to the boppish melody. Toshiko's piano skills were largely deemphasized during her many years of writing outstanding arrangements for her Jazz Orchestra, which featured her husband, Lew Tabackin. This track is a reminder of what she can achieve at the keyboard.
Reviewer: Scott Albin