That may have been the intention, but in reality this recording is a showcase for the skills of the great jazz bass player Ray Brown. Believe me, it's Brown whose notes you should pay attention to on this CD; of the five pianists, only Benny Green matches Brown in musical expressiveness and originality. The others play wonderfully, in their own bags, but only Green interacts with every phrase and every chord from the bass. It helps, of course, that Green is by far the most technically accomplished of the pianists included. In 1995, when this session was recorded, Green was the new kid on the block, just beginning his fairly long partnership with Ray Brown. Oscar Peterson, on the other end of things, had partnered with Brown a lot over the years; their feeling of ensemble is also strong on this CD, but Peterson was playing from their past, while Green was playing toward their future.
The "Some of My Best Friends ..." series also featured Brown with saxophonists, trumpeters, and singers (in exactly that order of interest IMHO). It was a ploy, if the truth be known, to sell recordings by Ray Brown, since bassists may be acclaimed musicians without becoming money cows for the studios. This CD is the best of the series. Of the five pianists paired with Brown, the truth is that he'd never performed or jammed with three. Ahmad Jamal was a 'star' by 1995, and an obvious choice. Dado Moroni was a promising "European Jazz" performer trying to find a footing in the USA. Geoff Keezer was a newbie, thrilled to his fingerprints to get the call.
Classicists out there! Pay attention to the lead bass line on the first track, Bags' Groove. What you'll hear is a very subtle quasi-inversion of the theme that Jamal will soon make obvious. That's the sort of interesting musical substance you'll hear throughout this CD if you know how to listen for it.
Benny Green, by the way, is now performing regularly with clarinet/sax-player Anat Cohen. After a long stagnation, in my opinion, Green has become an awakened giant at the keyboard, playing stuff that's fiery new.
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