Chris Andrew (Piano), Kodi Hutchinson (Bass), Dave Laing (Drums) with Special Guests PJ Perry (Saxophone on 3, 5, 6, 7), Al Muirhead (Trumpet on 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), and Mallory Chipman (Vocals on 2, 4, 5)
Recorded December 17th & 18th, 2021.
I was unaware of the Honorable Tommy Banks, a celebrity in Alberta and throughout Canada. Banks was a legendary pianist, conductor, arranger, composer, TV personality, actor, producer, and a twelve-year Senator of Canada. He became a professional jazz pianist at the age of fourteen. This CD features music Banks loved, inspired, or played.
The Hutchison Andrew Trio (aka HAT) is an award-winning group on their own and, for this CD, adds two Juno award winners – Al Muirhead (Saxophone) and PJ Perry (Trumpet). The quintet is very tight and very musical varying their approach between swinging group play and excellent soloing.
This traditional jazz CD sparkles with great touches. This is a joyous and upbeat CD, all in tribute to Tommy Banks. It was recorded live at the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, Alberta on what was to have been Tommy Banks’ 85th birthday. (Banks died in 2018) Three generations are featured.
Hutchinson and Andrew were mentored by Banks. Bassist Hutchinson played in various ensembles with Banks. Perry and Muirhead are contemporaries of Banks, meeting Banks while they were teenagers. The album includes vocals provided by Mallory Chipman, Tommy Banks’s granddaughter.
Chipman’s voice is ideally suited for the vocals on three well-known standards. Her flowing, soaring voice highlights the nuances of the songs. She adds much to the CD with her haunting voice and phrasing. A prominent part of her sound is scat singing included in the song “All of Me.”
The opening cut, “Jig” sets the tone for the CD and shows why the trio is award-winning. Unfurling lines that never drift far from the theme highlight the trio’s playing. The trio brings a high level of interaction and musical sense to the table.
“Bank On It”, written by pianist Andrew, is a compelling song that features some fine saxophone that takes the opening melody and expands it with a multitude of variations. Likewise, the soulful trumpet by Muirhead takes a similar tact to the melody. Well worth it.
A version of “Joy Spring,” the famous Clifford Brown-penned tune is included. The horns harmonize and glide over the rest of the group. The horns segue into a flowing saxophone solo.
The piano trio takes off midway. Again, they tease out the melody over the chords. The horns come back in soaring together.
This is a very good and interesting CD. I like the various tunes and arrangements. The pleasing vocals are a plus as well. This is what I would call a “good listen.” I recommend you seek this CD out for the sheer joy of hearing a talented group play great songs.