Ron Surace is a fine pianist, now with three releases available on Southport. This recording recalls the era of piano trios on nearly every block in Chicago. Many remember the big name trios that had steady house gigs in Chicago, it's almost difficult to imagine that there were probably more than 100 trios working five nights a week in Chicago!
The program focuses on thirteen of the great standards, tunes like "Speak Low," "The Touch of Your Lips" and "Sweet Lorraine" and one Surace original, "Jazz Ballad." Surace has an intriguing approach and a sure touch; he sounds like two pianists in some passages thanks to his strong left hand. Some of the tunes here are so identified with other pianists it's sometimes dangerous to record them, but Surace shines through making a personal statement on each.
The trio gets to play too, it's not just a piano album with bass and drum accompaniment. Bassist Tatsu Aoki and Dave Pavkovic get a lot of space in the arrangements and make the most of every note. Speaking of arrangements, check out the completely original approach to "Star Eyes," the effective ostinato nearly makes it a new tune!
Another fine effort from Surace and Southport that will help spur more live music. Join Ron Surace at his next club date or concert!—MV