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The Omnisound Years

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Album Review

Because pianist John Coates has generally recorded on an erratic basis for small labels, he hasn't had the opportunity to win over the size of audience that he deserves, though anyone who heard him during his 25-year tenure at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA, will attest to the fact that he is a superb, creative musician. This Pacific St. release compiles various selections from his records for the now-defunct Omnisound label, all recorded in the 1970s. "Love Is Enough" is an original with multiple facets: It has a down-home country sound with a definite bop flavor and a splash of dissonance. Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" is given a bluesy flavor, while Louis Armstrong's theme song, "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," is plagued by the tuning problems in the Deer Head Inn's piano and accented by occasional cash register rings, but it is still a masterful performance. Even jazz fans who would reach for their radio dials to make a rapid change if Neil Diamond were heard singing "Song Sung Blue" will give the song a second chance after hearing Coates' creative reworking of this pop hit. After purchasing this anthology of John Coates' recordings for Omnisound, don't be surprised if you find yourself looking for all of the original records so you won't miss any of this valuable music.

The Omnisound Years, John Coates
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