(Nervy CD002, available via Bandcamp. CD Review by Leonard Weinreich)
No shame here. And no pretence. The inspiration for Nostalgia is announced upfront: a celebration of Oscar Peterson’s fearsome mid-20th century trio with Joe Pass and Ray Brown, a peerless combination of supernatural chops, irrepressible joie-de-vivre, mercurial reactions and precision interplay. And while this combination might pose daunting benchmarks for wannabee musicians, it’s also worth mentioning that jazz piano trios ruthlessly highlight any lack of technical skill and therefore offer nowhere to hide.
Fortunately, one hour and twelve minutes exposure to this life-enhancing, toe-tapping production, provide sufficient evidence that pianist Craig Milverton, bassist Sandy Suchodolski and guitarist Nigel Price have no need of any camouflage. Their enthusiastic performances radiate rigorous dedication, relentless practice and unflagging drive. Throughout the album, 30 fleet fingers feed generous support heightened by extra-sensory perception and massive ears, all the way from the initial title track, Nostalgia, (tasty bass solo), Fats Navarro’s bop re-working of Out Of Nowhere, to the final, Tadd Dameron’s Superjet, ten tracks later.
Repertoire has been carefully considered: quality standards (a thoughtful interpretation of Petkere and Young’s minor key Lullaby Of The Leaves) interspersed with jazz compositions like Bob Dorough’s charming Devil May Care; Tom Harrell’s Moon Alley, Milverton’s original The Big Sleazy and two Peterson pieces: his romantic waltz Love Ballade and the seductive L’Impossible. A ballad medley, whose three song titles all appropriately begin with the personal pronoun, allows each individual player expressive opportunities: Nigel Price’s lyrical guitar investigates the possibilities of Victor Young and Bing Crosby’s I Don’t Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You; Suchodolski explores the architecture of Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin’s I Can’t Get Started; and Milverton unfolds a delectable reading of Ellington’s I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good on his treasured 1922 Steinway grand. He also reveals how much he’s absorbed Oscar’s voluminous spirit with references to many of Peterson’s distinguished keyboard influences: Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Nat Cole, Milt Buckner and George Shearing.
So, full frontal jazz: not only melodious, inventive and swinging but, at 72 minutes, a rare example of excellent value.