Before I can say anything nice about pianist Tim Green, I must tell you first about my encounters with his bass player, Jim Cox. Without first meeting Jim, no Tim.
I first met Mr. Cox when involved with bringing jazz mandolinist Don Stiernberg to Lincoln for Jazz in June a couple of years ago. Jim was his bassist. Move ahead to now. While waiting for a call from the Rob Scheps-Zach Brock Quintet, who were a little late getting into town for a BMF gig at P.O. Pears, the phone rings. Hi Rob÷no÷ who? It's Jim Cox, also in Lincoln as part of the Marian McPartland Trio playing at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
Well, Jim came to our show, stayed for the late-night hang, and was ever-so-decent to arrange an intermission meeting with Ms. McPartland for myself and wife, Grace. Another late-nighter and Jim glances at this rather towering pile of CDs to be checked out for reviews in this newsletter and says, "Hey, ya know I'm on that one? I think it's pretty good." With that, Tim Green's lovely "Catching Yourself Gracefully" made it to the top of the heap.
Jim was true to his word too. This piano trio recording is another OriginArts catalog diamond deserving mucho attention. With the addition of drummer Phil Gratteau (also a Stiernberg alumnus), this trio takes you there, from Green's own catchy and clever opener, "Coyote Samba," to a gorgeous rendition of Cedar Walton's "Bolivia." More perfectly penned Green tunes weave through memorable arrangements of Cole Porter's "Love For Sale," Duke's "Don't You Know I Care?" and totally funkin' you out in a take on "Back At the Chicken Shack" that would have turned Jimmy Smith's head around for the rousing album closer.
Tim's keyboard stylings swing at times very delicately, but can romp and stomp with the best of Žem, yet still stay true to the jazz idioms with enough panache to make him ever so New York ready. It was great to really hear (and see with Marian) the jazz brilliance contained in the mind and hands of Cox. Chicago's always been known for killer bass players, and he's no exception. Phil's ingenious, tasteful and propelling drum work round out this trio to a T.
I'm glad I didn't have to wait until much later to discover this music that seems to stay fresh with repeated listening.