Everybody told me that the unassuming, gentle Hod O’Brien was “a great bebop pianist,” and my reaction may say more about my narrowness, but I assumed that his playing with had a certain rhythmic angularity and be built on extended harmonies. Well, some of that stereotype is correct: he is anything but predictable rhythmically and his harmonies are deep — but the secret needs to be a secret no more: he is a great lyrical player, someone deeply entranced by melodic improvisation. His lines sing, and his playing is entrancing on many levels. He was joined by the equally lyrical, eloquent string bassist Ray Drummond for an evening of duets at Mezzrow — July 17, 2015 — and here is the first set, full of surprises and consolations, music that uplifts and embraces.
LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING:
DO NOTHIN’ TILL YOU HEAR FROM ME:
THERE IS NO GREATER LOVE:
ALL TOO SOON:
JUST YOU, JUST ME:
IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD (featuring Ray):
Quite wonderful. And the atmosphere at Mezzrow was somewhere between a family picnic and a class reunion, with Hod nearly mobbed before each set by people who wanted to tell him with great love how they had first seen him in Montreal in 1977. Send love out; get love back.
I promise that there will be a second set for all to savor soon. Hail, O’Brien and Drummond — great poets of swinging improvisation. Here is Hod’s website. And he’s just published a very delightful memoir, HAVE PIANO. . . WILL SWING! — Stories From A Jazz Life, which I am currently enjoying. More about that soon.
May your happiness increase!