Lady Be Good...For Ellaby Tommy Flanagan
The exquisite musings of piano great Tommy Flanagan need no extraneous superlatives; they speak volumes on their own. Here though it's personal, as he pays tribute to First Lady of Jazz Song Ella Fitzgerald, whom he faithfully accompanied first in the summer of 1956, as well as 1962-64 and 1968-78. Of the eleven songs swung by Flanagan, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash, the majority come right out of Ella's fabled songbook, with a couple of zingers tossed in for kicks. By the way, Flanagan himself has never sounded better, illuminating these well-known melodies with some modifications of his own. This program starts and ends with the title cut, but the first time around it's a wistfully slow ballad packed with all the elegance and emotion Flanagan can muster. The finale has him knocking it out flat, rippling with extroversions and extrapolations quite reminiscent of Ella's vocal excursions. Everyone knows how untouchable the pianist is on ballads, shown by the lugubriously patient melody he builds on the absolutely pristine "Isn't It a Pity?," the spooky, foggy "Angel Eyes," or the soft bossa "Alone Too Long." At his excitable best, Flanagan bops away at the midtempo "How High the Moon," goes for it during "Cherokee," chases the Fitzgerald penned "Love You Madly"-type song "Rough Ridin'" full steam ahead, trading eights with the clever Nash. The pianist is at his best during the actual, easy-swinging "Love You Madly," digging into his chordal interpretations of the melody, almost overemphasizing and staggering the phrases into a totally submissive stranglehold. Although Flanagan has many high points in an exceptional career, this is certainly up there with the best, and a great set of Cliff Notes for doing the jazz piano trio right. Highly recommended.
- Release Date:
- Polygram Records
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