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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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Prepare A Place For Me

Myna Records MR-0001



  1. Just Everything

  2. 'Round Midnight

  3. Headin' Over

  4. Snake Charm

  5. Message To Monterey

  6. The Nearness Of You

  7. Prepare A Place For Me

  8. Mushroom City

  9. Song For Ofelia

Oscar Perez - Piano

Bruce Williams - Alto sax (tracks 3, 4, 7-9)

Thomson Kneeland - Bass

Alvester Garnett - Drums

Prepare A Place For Me is the third album of New Yorker Oscar Perez. The earlier discs had featured a quintet and a septet respectively but here Perez has a trio, augmented by alto saxophonist Bruce Williams on five of the tracks. Perez is a composer and jazz educator, as well as a pianist of considerable gifts. His compositions form a strong core for the recording with two familiar classics, 'Round Midnight and The Nearness Of You, supplementing his writing. Both standards are among the album's highlights. 'Round Midnight receives an appealing treatment, sometimes possessing an almost Shearing-like sound but also seamlessly shifting gear at appropriate moments. Inevitably, too, given the pianist's Cuban family roots and the fact that he studied with the great Danilo Perez, there is a distinct Latin feel to the track. As for The Nearness Of You, this well-loved ballad is the subject of a tender treatment of the melody and then an inventive interpretation of it.

I would commend two of Perez's own tunes, in particular. Message To Monterey has Perez at the top of his game, weaving labyrinthine patterns of sound with charm and style, ably assisted by the excellent Thomson Kneeland on bass and Alvester Garnett's subtle drumming. The title track, Prepare A Place For Me, contains a smooth, sultry and extended alto solo from Bruce Williams, evidence of a creative musician at work. Perez, meanwhile, shows his mettle with a sparkling performance on piano. Add to that, a further deft solo from Kneeland and the usual competent support from Alvester Garnett, and you have a bunch of musicians entirely at ease with one another. There is good listening to be found, too, on Just Everything, Headin' Over and Snake Charm, the latter living up to its name. Only the final couple of tracks, to my ears at least, fall a little below the calibre of the rest.

Oscar Perez knows what makes for a strong theme, on the evidence of this CD. And apart from his undoubted keyboard abilities, it is obvious that he believes in encouraging a quality of group interaction that enhances the overall impact of the music. Here's to the next time!

James Poore

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