Jazz Society of Oregon
Tonk – A Tribute To Ray Bryant, Vol. 2; Lenny Marcus, piano, flute, vocals.?Ray Bryant had a certain open, bluesy sound with chords seemingly from heaven. It turns out that Bryant, who passed away in 2011, was Lenny Marcus’s teacher and mentor and a best friend of Marcus Sr. So it’s entirely sensible that Marcus should follow his earlier RB tribute with Volume 2. His basic trio of Rick Eckberg, bass, and Larry Scott, drums, is augmented here and there with additional instrumentation. And Marcus keeps these proceedings squarely in Bryant’s corner with a very bluesy orientation and a swinging menu from the first notes. How could he do otherwise on a tribute to this great Philly giant? There are 16 tunes in all, ranging from evergreens such as “C Jam Blues,” “Old Devil Moon,” and “St. Louis Blues,” to Bryant blues specials such as “Slow Freight,” “Up Above the Rock,” “Break Tune in G,” and two of Ray’s best, “Blues #2 and #3.” These — and all the others on this disc — remind us of the individuality, the fresh and invigorating vitality, and the reliably joyful sound that was, plain and simply, in the DNA of Ray Bryant.?Self-Produced; 2013; appx. 58 minutes.
Folks, it just doesn’t get much mo’ down & phonk-y than this… you’ll be hooked (as was I) from the opening bar of “Seven Ate Nine” right to the last note of “Ode To The Night“… 16 tracks that will have you in jazz heaven (somethin’ to do with dreams, maybe?) perpetually! Lenny’s keyboards are joined by a whole host of “on” players, & the recording is superbly done. The sax work (Tom Artwick) on the opening to “Five Little Stars” serves as a perfect opening for each of the other players to show their jazz skills… simple, yet beautiful jazz that you won’t soon forget. My personal favorite tune was “Happy Blues For Two“… this is an all-round jazz journey that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97. Get more information at Lenny’s site.
Sun Ray: A Tribute To Ray Bryant (self-released) is an album that shows the utmost respect for jazz, a musician, and a friend. The album by the Lenny Marcus Trio (Marcus on piano, Larry Scott on drums, and Rick Eckberg on bass) is the kind of diversity and jazz you come to love, expect, and respect from albums released throughout the 1960?s, where you’ll hear a bit of be-bop, something traditional, a bit of Brasilia with a dash into bossa nova, and a ballad or two, and the playing here is very exquisite. Everyone on this album stands out, but when Marcus gets into a mean solo, as he does in “Cubano Chant”, you can not only hear hints of what Marcus taught up, but Marcus offering acknowledgment to his mentor. It gets quite deep when you hear one of three Marcus originals, the title track that might make a few hip-hop producers go “oh!, I want to use that”. Not without permission, of course. Impressive album from start to finish.
See the review in person here.