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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.

Biography

Born: February 17, 1938 in Trenton, NJ

Genre: Finance

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

A fixture at the Deer Head Inn in Pennsylvania's Delaware Water Gap for over 25 years, John Coates, Jr. (an early inspiration for Keith Jarrett) has been creating worthy music (a bit in the Bill Evans vein) for several decades in general obscurity. He started playing piano quite young, studied at Mannes College of Music and the Dalcroze School of Music, and thought seriously of becoming a concert pianist. But after he discovered jazz, he changed his direction. In 1955, at the age of 17, Coates recorded...
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The Omnisound Years, John Coates
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