1. Scrapple From The Apple
4. Schumann's Chamisso
5. Sweet Caroline
6. Where Did You Sleep
7. All Things Are
9. I'll Remember April
Kevin Hays - Piano
Rob Jost - Bass, ukelele
Greg Joseph - Drums
New York born Kevin Hays is now in his late forties and is perhaps less well known than he should be, given his quality. He is a pianist and composer who
touches most of the musical bases in his playing and recording. He has made a number of CDs as a leader, three of them on the Blue Note label, as well as
being a sideman on over 60 other discs. This is the second CD in two years that has been released featuring his New Day Trio with Rob Jost and Greg Joseph
(his previous trio line-up involved bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart). He has also played, for instance, with Stewart's trio and with The Sangha
Quartet. Another notable collaboration was with fellow jazz pianist Brad Mehldau on the Modern Music album in 2011. His associates here both
possess interesting hinterlands. Rob Jost has worked with Bj÷rk and with jazz and folk-rock guitarist/bass guitarist Tony Scherr, while Greg Joseph
includes Steve Kuhn and Art Garfunkel among his credits.
Most of the tunes on this latest offering are written by Hays himself. The exceptions are Charlie Parker's Scrapple From The Apple, Leadbelly'sWhere Did You Sleep and the standard I'll Remember April. All ten tracks have much to commend them, half of them are outstanding. Elegia, a Hays composition, is a lovely piece. Delivered with passionate conviction by Hays with skilful support from Jost and Joseph, this track
is simply superb. On Violetta, Jost plays the ukelele, an instrument rarely heard in a modern jazz setting, to good effect. There's a touch of
gospel and blues in Hays' playing here as well a lively dialogue between piano and drums backed by Jost's solid bass. A rocking rhythm ensues. Schumann's Chamisso reflects Hays' exposure to the classical tradition with this nod to Robert Schumann, the German Romantic composer of the
nineteenth century. Lilting, expressive piano combined with stylish bass and sensitive drumming produces a rich listening experience. Where Did You Sleep, as we might expect, is deeply rooted in the blues. This track allows each of the musicians in the group to go through their
paces. Hays once more evokes a gospel sensibility, Jost provides an excellent bass solo and Greg Joseph is immaculate on drums. North, the title
track, following a meditative beginning, opens out into an expansive and inventive treatment. Impressive.
As for the rest, Scrapple From The Apple is in no danger of over-familiarity blunting the impact of the track, since the theme appears in
recognisable form only at the end. A tangential approach is taken to this old warhorse. Sweet Caroline (no, not that one but a Hays orginal) is in
the groove and is delivered with vigour and Úlan. All Things Are is a pleasure to hear with Hays masterly in an up-tempo number. I'll Remember April is imaginatively explored. Morning suggests initially that it will be simply appealing mood music but the group
fairly storm along in the middle passage.
This, then, is a highly satisfying album from a cohesive and talented band of musicians. With regard to Hays himself, I confess myself a fan. If you
haven't heard him before, here is a good place to start.