Judging from his seventh and most recent recording, one could say that pianist Jimmy Amadie is one of the unsung greats of jazz. He has a natural ability to find the swing in any standard and the right emotional pitch of a ballad. He puts those gifts to use on “Kindred Spirits” (TP Recordings) a rollicking but attenuated set of swinging originals that pair Amadie’s trio with the well-known saxophonists, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano and Lew Tabakin.
Having found success in the 50s and 60s by playing with Woody Herman and Mel Torme, Amadie was derailed by tendonitis in his hands, which removed him from the scene until decades later. He began recording again in 1995, slowly working through his intensely painful physical condition, and made a series of outstanding recordings that peaked with his “The Philadelphia Story,” a collaborative effort from 2007 that teamed the pianist with Benny Golson, Randy Brecker and Tabakin.
“Spirits” shows Amadie in fine form. Listening to him play on “What Now” is to hear an artist in full command of his gifts as a composer and musician. His robust solos brim with charm and musicality. He has a style that’s effervescent, as when he comps behind Tabakin’s flute on “Blues For Thee ’DV’” with a youthful bounce. Another percolating tune, “I Want To Be Happy” with Lee Konitz, plays like a musical conversation between two old friends and rightly concludes with the saxophonist’s vocal exclamation, “hot!” But the highlight is “Life Is Worth Living,” a beautiful tune showcasing Joe Lovano’s sumptuous tenor and a note perfect Amadie solo that’s the model of urbanity. Amadie’s trio includes Bill Goodwin on drums and bassist Tony Merino (whose walking bass kills on Monk’s “Well You Needn’t.”) Bassist Steve Gilmore also takes a turn on two tracks. Amazingly, other recurring health concerns necessitated that Amadie record each track in one take. Now that’s a lesson in perseverance and an example of a consummate musicianship. Either way, “Kindred Spirits” is a grand accomplishment. (8 tracks; 54:11 minutes) www.jimmyamadie.com
Labels: Jimmy Amadie, Joe Lovano, Lee Konitz, Lew Tabakin, TP Recordings