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Midnight Blue

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Album Review

This 1991 session is one of Walter Bishop, Jr.'s final dates as a leader prior to his death in 1998 and it is well worth acquiring. With bassist Reggie Johnson and drummer Doug Sides on hand, the bop pianist is in top form. A jaunty "Sweet and Lovely" starts the CD with gusto, followed by an intense, rather brisk samba treatment of "Never Let Me Go." His approach to Mel Tormé's timeless holiday favorite, "The Christmas Song," is a bit more strident than one would expect, but his version won't be confused with anyone else's. Freddie Hubbard's waltz "Up Jumped Spring" finds him skating around the theme in a sometimes discordant manner reminiscent of Monk, while his quotes of "Greensleeves," "Willow Weep for Me," and even "Blue Monk" add a touch of humor. Bishop wrote three of the 12 songs, including the very bluesy "Midnight Blue," the tricky bop piece "Lady Barbara," and "Farmer's Delight," a delightful hard bop vehicle. Recommended.


Born: 10 April 1927 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Walter Bishop, Jr. was a valuable utility pianist on many a modern jazz session during the bebop era, remaining an active performer until his death at the age of 70 in early 1998. The son of composer Walter Bishop, Sr., he grew up in Harlem's Sugar Hill area, and as a teen counted among his friends Sonny Rollins, Kenny Drew, and Art Taylor; acknowledging Art Tatum, Bud Powell, and Nat King Cole as important influences, Bishop first attracted notice on the Manhattan club circuit around 1947, going...
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Midnight Blue, Walter Bishop Jr.
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