Pianist Michael Kanan is one of my heroes, someone whose musical and aesthetic instincts I trust without question. I met him through the most respected saxophonist Joel Press, and once I’d heard Michael play a chorus I knew I was in the presence of a deep yet light-hearted sensibility. He can be eloquent and touching but he never sells emotion to an audience in capital letters; he is witty but never comedic, and he has perfect taste without being fussy. Michael also is a splendid compass needle pointing to the finest players and singers. So when I read some time back that Michael was leading a session at Mezzrow, I sent in my money and was there about ninety minutes before it began (listening to the splendid guitarist John Merrill) to be sure I’d get to sit in the proper place.
Michael brought with him Neal Miner, that peerless string bassist and composer, and someone new to me, the lyrical and sure-footed guitarist Greg Ruggiero. Here’s the first part of the music they made that evening: graceful yet deep, intensely melodic but never heavy-handed. Some viewers might think, “What can you do in 2015 with two venerable standards and a blues?” I will say only, “Observe and marvel.”
ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET (which starts in another direction — and I could be content with the first chorus alone):
Neal Miner’s BLUES OKURA:
BODY AND SOUL:
And I promise you more performances from the exalted Kanan – Miner – Ruggiero ensemble.
May your happiness increase!