Recording Date: 1947 - 1953
Pianist Hank Jones' first LP consists of six piano solos from 1947 and four trio numbers (with guitarist Johnny Smith and bassist Ray Brown) from 1953. This CD reissue from 1997 has all of that music, plus numerous alternate takes and false starts on a pair of the 1953 Jones originals ("Things Are So Pretty In the Spring" and "Thad's Pad"). Particularly on the unaccompanied solos, Hank Jones shows off the influence of Art Tatum, while the trio cuts are more boppish and sometimes recall the King Cole Trio. Excellent music, although the added alternates (the many stop-and-start versions of "Things" go on for over 14 minutes) can get a bit tedious at times.
Tracks 1-4 and 11-17:
Hank Jones (p) with Johnny Smith (g) and Ray Brown (b).
Recorded September 4,1953 at Fine Sound, New York City Original-LP issue: Urbanity Clef MGC 707
Tracks 11-17 are previously unissued.
Hank Jones (p). Track 6: Add TK (b).
Recorded probably late September, 1947 in New York City Original 10?-LP issue: Hank Jones Piano Mercury MGC
Original LP Liner Notes^
Urbanity, one will concede, is a most fitting term to describe the aura of Hank Jones's piano, which conjures to mind the sophistication of the city. It is a late-at-night aura, generous in under-state-ment, deploring the obvious, suggesting rather than declaring. Actually, Henry "Hank" Jones and his piano do recall all of this. But the point should be noted that Hank Jones is not a Manhattan cocktail lounge-type pianist. Far from it. Not only is his musical sophistication much more genuine, but Jones himself is a schooled musician of great inventiveness and fertility of expression. In a word, the sophistication is no veneer, the urbanity no pose. Hank Jones plays an awful lot of piano. His music is sensitive, pretty (but not just pretty), abundant in ideas and through it all there is a jazz beat - he uses both hands equally well, incidentally, this being a habit which seems to have eluded so many modern young pianists. One of the more interesting facets to Hank Jones is his flair for saying something new with an old song - in this album, for example, Vincent Youmans's "Tea for Two" ranks in the upper rung of most-played songs in the last few decades. "Tea for Two" is even more standard than most songs thoroughly accepted in all quarters as standards - and yet it is well to listen to Hank Jones play this number and reveal a freshness you may not have thought could exist. Two other standards, just a notch below "Tea for Two" in durability are also to be heard here. They are "Yesterdays", by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach, and the Rodgers Hart evergreen, "The Blue Room". These, too, get a fresh shading and are very pleasant to hear once more. Two others here are pieces by Jones himself - "Blues for Lady Day", written for and inspired by, of course, Billie Holiday, and "Things Are So Pretty in the Spring", both singularly evocative of a mood.
Jones, a native of Pontiac, Michigan, has preferred to concentrate for most of his career in New York, although he has made one tour with Jazz At The Philharmonic (and can be heard in Volume 8 of JATP) and accompanied Ella Fitzgerald in a tour of Europe. A thorough-going modernist, Jones has been influenced by Art Tatum and Fats Waller in the successful pursuit of his own individuality. He is abetted here by the following musicians: Johnny Smith, guitar and Ray Brown, bass.
All Music Guide