Debbie Poryes, long based in the San Franciso area, is a talented modern mainstream pianist. On her recent trio album, an homage to Hank Jones (1918-2010), she sometimes sounds a bit like McCoy Tyner and displays the influence of Bill Evans in some of her chord voicings and her close interplay with bassist Peter Barshay. However, she mostly sounds very much like herself.
While the picturesque "Loving Hank" utilizes flugelhornist Erik Jekabson in the ensemble, the remainder of this project is a mixture of standards and originals performed by her trio with Barshay and drummer David Rokeach. The familiar tunes, such as "How About You," "Autumn In New York" and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," are reharmonized and modernized a bit without losing their essence. "Confirmation" is a joy, showing that Poryes can play bebop quite well.
Of the originals, the energetic "The Wish," the downbeat ballad "Tears We've Shed" and the complex "Tossing, Turning" are particularly memorable. Due to the mood and tempo variations, along with the consistently inventive piano solos, Loving Hank holds one's interest throughout. This is one of Poryes' finest recordings to date.