On Live at Gilly’s, pianist extraordinaire Roy Meriwether returns to his hometown of Dayton, Ohio for a live trio set recorded in 2004. The music is signature Meriwether, energized and rollicking.
Meriwether unravels seemingly endless lines that dance effortlessly along the keyboard and swing mercilessly. The intensity of his soloing builds fast and furious with aggressive block-chord punctuations and imaginative melodic give-and-take between right and left hand. The veteran pianist demonstrates complete mastery of the classic piano-trio sound. There’s slow-burning grease on "I’m Confessin’ That I Love You," unrelenting bebop on Miles Davis’ "Four," Freely developed ideas on Don Pullen’s funky "Ah George We Hardly Knew Ya" and no-nonsense, down-home-blues on the 12-bar staple "After Hours."
All in all, the material is pretty standard fare for a straight-ahead club date, with the exception of the disc’s closer, an extended arrangement of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s "Jesus Christ Superstar." Although the inclusion of such a piece may seem unusual, the resulting performance is fitting of Meriwether’s soulful determination. Bassist Frank Smith and drummer Kenny Phelps dig in with taste and flair, propelling each groove forward. Smith takes of advantage of every solo opportunity to showcase his in-the-pocket bass approach.
Live at Gilly’s is the next best thing to hearing a musical giant like Meriwether in person. The intimacy of the club and the spontaneity of the music have been captured exquisitely.