Pianist Dave Miller has been a fixture on the Northern California jazz scene for quite a few years. Early in his life he discovered the music of George Shearing whose quintet made bebop accessible in the 1950s, and he considers
Shearing an important influence on his own playing although Miller has his own voice in straight ahead jazz.
George Shearing was born August 13, 1919 so Just Imagine is a celebration of his centennial in addition to being a tribute to his artistry and the wide range of his music. Rather than recreating Shearing’s hits, Miller and his regular trio with bassist Chuck Bennett and drummer Bill Belasco perform both standards and superior obscurities that Shearing had played along the way.
Among the highlights are a joyful version of Billy Taylor’s “One For The Woofer,” “You Took Advantage Of Me” (which has counterpoint in its first chorus between Miller and Bennett that is reminiscent of Shearing and bassist Brian Torff), “The Bebop Irishman” (a Ray Bryant piece that had not been recorded since 1963), and “I’d Love to Make Love to You” which was introduced by Nat King Cole in 1946. On the latter, Miller plays in the
block hand style that Shearing often utilized.
The other selections include bassist Sam Jones’ catchy “Bittersweet,” “A Beautiful Friendship,” Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation,” “This Time The Dream’s On Me,” a Latin version of “A Time For Love” and “All My Tomorrows.”
The pianist also adds variety to the program by creating a duet apiece with Bennett (“You Must Believe In Spring”) and Belasco (Jim Hall’s “Careful”) and two unaccompanied solos (“A Foggy Day” and “Just Imagine”).
On Just Imagine, Dave Miller is very much in the spotlight, performing George Shearing-inspired music that will delight anyone who loves straight ahead jazz.
Amazing George Shearing Piano tribute Dave Miller Trio – JUST IMAGINE: One of the sweetest things about being a music reviewer who has been on-the-scene for a few years is that I know wonderful albums will always be coming my way, and in the case of this amazing George Shearing Piano tribute from Dave Miller, it’s a piano-lover’s dream… since this doesn’t release until October, 2019, you won’t find samples up yet, so you’ll have to trust my ears until I’m told they’ve been posted; in the meantime, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to Dave’s TOPIC channel on YouTube, to see & hear previous performances.
The new release features Dave’s marvelous piano, of course, and he’s joined by Chuck Bennet on bass and Bill Belasco doing drums… tunes like the opener, “One for the Woofer” will make you fall in love with the trio immediately… lively, with rich tones and superb recording, it’s one of the best piano-led performances I’ve heard (yet) in 2019.
You’re not going to believe the “zest” you’ll hear on “The Bebop Irishman”… the tempo is WAY “up”, and you’ll find yourself dancin’ ’round the room as though you just found your own pot-o-gold!
A slightly more laid-back mood is projected on “A Foggy Day”, with the piano having just a great time all the way through the tune… SOLID, SOLID, folks.
After listening through the album twice, it was easy to choose my personal favorite of the fourteen splendid jazz adventures offered up… the title track and closer, “Just Imagine”, a beautiful unaccompanied solo… I predict that this tune will be getting some MAJOR airplay on jazz stations ’round the globe.
I give Dave and his players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 4.98 for this fine album.
-Contemporary Fusion by Dick Metcalf
Recently I reviewed an album on which pianist Dave Miller was backing his daughter vocalist Rebecca Dumaine. This recording is by Miller and his trio with bassist Chuck Bennett and drummer Bill Belasco on drums. Belasco has regularly been playing with Miller for four decades while Bennett has only been with Miller with two years, but one who Miller loves for his “harmonic awareness and melodic sensitivity.” George Shearing greatly influenced Miller, and this album is a celebration of the centennial of Shearing, who was born on August 13, 1919. Rather than recreating Shearing’s hits, Miller and his trio perform both standards and superior obscurities that Shearing had played along the way. Along with well-known songs like “You Took Advantage of Me,” “Confirmation,” and “A Foggy Day,” Miller plays lesser-known songs from Billy Taylor and Ray Bryant.
The recording opens with the swing Billy Taylor’s “One For the Woofer,” with Miller displaying his relaxed, fluid, and sophisticated touch while exchanging fours with Belasco. Then there is the lyrical rendition of “You Took Advantage of Me,” as he spins his solo with Bennett keeping the pulse and Belasco lightly adding his accents. Rusty Bryant’s, “The Bebop Irishman” is a song that has only been recorded three times, twice by Shearing. Last recorded in 1963, Miller’s rendition is an exuberant development of a traditional Irish motif. Then there is the delicate beauty of the performance of “I’d Love To Make Love To You,” that Nat King Cole first recorded in 1946. Cole recorded “A Beautiful Friendship” with George Shearing. Miller’s recording also displays a graceful, elegant quality with Bennett soloing on this.
There is a lively performance of Sam Jones’ blues, “Bittersweet,” and a spirited rendering of Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation,” as Miller is vibrant here. “You Must Believe In Spring” is an exquisite duet by Miller and Bennett opening with some lovely solo piano, while Jim Hall’s “Careful” is a vivacious duet by Miller with Belasco on the Cajon. The solo performances of “A Foggy Day” and “Just Imagine” are delightful and exquisitely performed. Delightful and exquisitely performed is also an apt description of the music on “Just Imagine.” The Dave Miller Trio has produced a marvelous recording.