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The Serenata

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Album Review

John Young is a longtime Chicago-based pianist who the locals know and love, though he has recorded as a sideman more frequently than as a leader. This Delmark CD reissue of a pair of 1959 sessions features him leading a trio with bassist Victor Sproles and drummer Phil Thomas. To a blindfolded listener, his style suggests both Red Garland and Wynton Kelly (especially in the opener, "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed"), though he is very much his own man. He devours whole fellow pianist Ray Bryant's signature tune, "Cubana Chant." He incorporates a variation of "Freddie the Freeloader" to introduce the swinging blues "Bones" (possibly an original, but the CD unfortunately lacks any composer credits), which features Sproles' understated bass and Thomas' crisp brushwork. His arrangement of "When I Fall in Love" could easily be mistaken for Erroll Garner. This reissue adds a bonus of three valuable alternate takes.


Born: 16 March 1922 in Little Rock, AR

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A longtime fixture of the Chicago bop scene -- and criminally underappreciated outside of it -- pianist John Young collaborated with jazz giants ranging from Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald to Dexter Gordon during a career spanning more than six decades. Born March 16, 1922 in Little Rock, AR, Young was the last of eight children -- the family relocated to Chicago while he was still a toddler, and at age eight he began playing piano, later studying under celebrated DuSable High School instructor...
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The Serenata, John Young
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