As a jazz pianist, Jones commands a lavish arsenal of formidable weapons: the rumbling bass lines of an Erroll Garner or Dave McKenna, the meteoric right-hand phrasings of an Art Tatum or Bud Powell, the awesome chops of an Oscar Peterson or McCoy Tyner, the natural rhythmic swing of a Hampton Hawes or Horace Silver, the unerring taste and sensitivity of a Kenny Barron, Hank Jones or Bill Evans.
Even if pianist Mike Jones provided nothing but the keyboard virtuosity for which he is developing a national reputation, he would be well worth hearing. But Jones brings much more to this tour de force recording, which places him in a league with such superior solo pianists as Dick Hyman and Dave McKenna.Like them, Jones approaches the keyboard as if it were a jazz band, simultaneously unfurling walking bass lines, exquisite innter voices and running top notes that would seem to require four hands rather than two. Better yet, the beauty of Jones’ touch, the wit of his phrasing and the intelligence of his improvisations ennoble such standards as “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love,” “Gone With the Wind” and “Stars Fell on Alabama.” When Jones plays a melody as written, you practically can hear the lyrics; when he improvises freely on it, you wonder why the composer didn’t think of these riffs. “Stretches Out” represents an aural feast.
The Most remarkable pure technique of any piano player working in jazz today… over the course of three solo albums, Mike Jones has quietly established himself as the successor to the stupefyingly virtousic Oscar Peterson, in much the same way Peterson took the baton from the previously peerless Art Tatum in the 1950’s.
Mike Jones is a true virtuoso, a two-handed pianist who often recalls Oscar Peterson while throwing in some heated stride now and then, along with basslines worthy of Dave McKenna.
He displays a ferociously driving independence of right and left-hand lines… and a reflective lyricism tastefully distant from the floral bouquets of other chops-endowed pianists.
He is after (Dave) Mc Kenna, the great living Mainstream Monster of jazz piano, with great taste in standards and a sense of swing strong enough to rock the reading room of the British Museum. And, incredibly, he’s getting better as he gets older.
The right hand is constantly in motion, the wellspring of perceptive ideas lavish and overflowing, while the left hand lays down a heavy bass line that would be the envy of many a master of the upright.
Although he can aslo rip Tatum-esque lightning bolts and cross – chop the format like Oscar Peterson, speed is not really at issue. It’s Jones’s playful and original treatments of the oldies that make his choices fresh and engaging… his syntax is always polite and his melodies correct.
To put Mike Jones in perspective, one would only have to look around the room during his performances at the 1999 Floating Jazz Festival. Among the people who came to hear him play night after night, were Oscar Peterson, Monty Alexander, Shirley Horn and Junior Mance; not exactly folks who are easily impressed… he interprets great songs, with an uncanny sense of melody, innovation, and unfathomable technique… he’s simply incredible!