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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Plays the Piano

Self Produced



  1. Isn’t She Lovely (Stevie Wonder)
  2. I Let A Song out of My Heart (Duke Ellington)
  3. McCoy for Now (Trudell)
  4. Jonesin’ (Trudell)
  5. The [Sic] Old Black Magic (Harold Arlen)
  6. If Ever I Would Leave You (Frederic Loewe)
  7. The Worth of a Woman (Alicia Keys)
  8. Soulville (Horace Silver)

Dan Trudell (piano)

Joe Sanders (bass)

Matt Wilson (drums)

No recording details given. [58:24]

Dan Trudell isn’t much of a name on the European side of the Atlantic, but for some years now he had a substantial reputation, primarily as an organist, especially around Chicago and the Midwest, but not only there. Given that he is best known as an organist, the title of this CD clearly makes an assertion – DT plays the piano too! (and does so pretty well).

Originally from Michigan, Trudell studied classical organ in his teens but fell under the spell of jazz. As a jazzman he has worked in many groups under his own leadership in the Midwest. As a pianist or organist he has also worked with, amongst others, Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove, Eric Alexander, Ron Carter and Terrell Stafford; he has accompanied such singers as Joe Williams and Kurt Elling.

So far as I can recall, the only time I have previously heard Trudell was on Dragon Fish, a duet album from 2009 featuring Trudell and the Chicago saxophonist and flautist Pat Mallinger, issued by Chicago Sessions. It is a while since I heard that CD, but my memory of Trudell’s imaginative playing thereon was sufficiently positive for me to be slightly disappointed by the relatively unadventurous, if thoroughly competent, playing of Trudell on this trio CD. Perhaps the greater freedom available in the duo format and the fact that there were more originals in that programme, plus the quality of Mallinger’s work all offered a more challenging stimulus to Trudell? Certainly the pianist couldn’t have asked for a better rhythm section than he has on this current CD.

The young bassist Joe Sanders is already well-established on the New York scene, and has recorded with musicians such as pianists Joe Gilman, Gerald Clayton and Adam Birnbaum, and trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire and Christian Scott. Here he plays with considerable harmonic sophistication and provides a strong rhythmic drive. He is an interesting soloist who occasionally sings along with his solos. Drummer Matt Wilson is a young veteran of the contemporary jazz scene, having worked with a huge range of musicians, from Andrew Hill to Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones to Lee Konitz. He is a very intelligent drummer, astute and sensitive as a group player. Trudell, on this CD, emerges as a very well-schooled, very assured musician without doing anything especially startling or original. One can hear debts to both Ahmad Jamal and Red Garland (and maybe Wynton Kelly) in his playing. I can hear less of the pianist suggested by the title of one of Trudell’s own compositions ‘McCoy for Now’ (Tyner, presumably).

This is a good example of a kind of piano trio heard less often than it was some years ago, straight ahead modern-mainstream, hard swinging and with more than a little of the funky quality so characteristic of Chicago Jazz. Trudell is technically very sure, clearly very well-schooled in hard bop; his wide-ranging experience and professionalism are evident everywhere. If one was lucky enough to hear a trio as good as this live in a club one would carry away very happy memories of the occasion. I am less sure that I will think quite so well of this recording after multiple hearings, even though the recorded sound is good, well-balanced and vivid. By the very highest standards there just isn't enough of the real "sound of surprise". If you like the trio music of pianists now gone, from the 1950s to the 1970s, you will, I feel sure, enjoy this disc, as I have ? though there may be a certain element of nostalgia in that pleasure. If you want your piano trios to be more challenging, you will need to look elsewhere.

Glyn Pursglove

See additional review by Jonathan Woolf

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