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Mike Longo and music inspired by LBJ

JAZZ

Mike Longo Trio, "Only Time Will Tell" (CAP)

Here's a venerable jazz pianist if ever there was one -- Mike Longo, who filled Dizzy Gillespie's piano chair and functioned as his music director for 26 years.

Now that's a gig. His trio is filled out by bassist Paul West and drummer Lewis Nash, both of whom had their own stints with Dizzy. Longo has made a lot of trio records in his time. None of them have ever struck anyone that I know of as exceptional but it's hard not to love the repertoire on this disc -- Monk's "Nutty," and "Brilliant Corners," Oscar Pettiford's "Bohemia After Dark," Eubie Blake's "Memories of You," a droll, snail's pace tempo on "Exactly Like You." He wrote the title track, he says, after watching a documentary about Lyndon Johnson. "I started feeling sorry for him and went to the piano and wrote it."

The point of doing it is how much time changes things. But surely there's some kind of distinction in a jazz pianist writing and playing the most wistful and nostalgic music ever inspired by Lyndon Baines Johnson.

2 stars (out of four)

 

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