Sep 9, 2009
Piano trios are renowned for interpreting and reinterpreting popular songs. Whether you prefer the standards that Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett captured so wonderfully, or Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson deconstructing Radiohead, there is no doubt that the give and take of piano, bass and drums lends itself to exploring the harmonic and melodic possibilities of songs that we all know and love.
Add Kevin Hays’ trio to the list of piano trios that reinterpret both old and new material with panache. Hays has played with bassist Doug Weiss and Bill Stewart for almost ten years, and their interplay is almost telepathic at times. Their latest album, You’ve Got A Friend, reimagines pop hits like Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and the title track, concentrating not on their memorable melodies, but rather on the way they can present classic material in a new and different way.
The same holds true for the group’s presentation of classic jazz written by Thelonious Monk (“Think of One”) and Charlie Parker (“Cheryl”). These tunes could be hot, but clichéd if taken as others have. Here, these are revisionist versions that get more than we might expect from be-bop era material. The rhythm section shines brightest on “Sweet and Lovely”, with Stewart creating a dramatic setting for the Harry Tobias standard.
Since today is Beatles Hype Day, the day that the stereo remasters and “Rock Band” game are released to adoring consumers, you can click here and listen to a sly and subtle rethinking of Lennon and McCarney's "Fool on the Hill".