Hank Jones & Oliver Jones: What Am I Here For?


What Am I Here For?


Hank Jones (piano) and Oliver Jones (piano)


Pleased to Meet You (Justin Time 236)

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Hank Jones (piano), Oliver Jones (piano),

Brandi Disterheft (bass), Jim Doxas (drums)


Composed by Duke Ellington


Recorded: Montreal, June 25-26, 2008


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

I am just pleased that the label didn't go for a cornier joke in the title. Have You Met Mr. Jones? Me and Mr. Jones? Keeping Up with the Joneses? After all, these are serious artists and among the eldest of the elder statesmen, the venerable Hank, a month shy of his 90th birthday when he made this recording, and the relative youngster Oliver, a spry 74-years-old at the time. The newcomer here is the song, a fine Ellington composition from his great early 1940s band which deserves to be heard more often. Matching up two jazz pianists is not always a smart idea. Twenty fingers can stir up plenty of commotion, and create murky new chord voicings that, like the sweet melodies in Keats's poem, are better left unheard. But when two gentlemen of the keys with such taste meet up, no clash and clang disrupts the proceedings. The Montreal native Oliver is up first here, followed by Detroit's finest Hank, and if there is any competition here, it is to see who can swing most effectively with the rhythm section. The Canadian entry is a bit more forceful, while the Motor Town alternative shines with a sweet touch. Call it a dead heat, and put it on a second time. What else are we here for?

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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