Jimmy Rowles — a painter, sly and romantic, who sat on a piano bench — was not often recorded as a solo pianist. Whether by choice or circumstance, I don’t know, but most often he was captured with a string bassist and drummer. The bassists and drummers were always superb, but the half-dozen recordings of Rowles unadorned are something extraordinary.
One can hear his chord voicings, his approach to playing in and out of time, his love for the melody. I think his 1982 performance of HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN, part of a collective tribute to Bill Evans, is subtle, sad, and quirky all at once, with touching nods to WHAT IS THERE TO SAY? and THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU as poignant salutes:
and a year earlier, for an Ellington-Strayhorn tribute, JUMPIN’ PUNKINS, where Rowles becomes the whole 1941 Ellington orchestra:
He remains a marvel, no matter how many times you hear a performance.
May your happiness increase!