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Stretches Out by Mike Jones

The primary credit on this disc is Mike Jones - solo piano, but there are three other credits that deserve significant, if not equal, attention. First, there's the Kawai EX #2230001, a special edition instrument that was flown from its home in LA to the Family Music Concert Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, for these sessions. Jones was given access to the instrument as a member of the Kawai roster of artists and as good as he is, a great instrument could only help create a great performance.

The special character of the instrument is indicated by the next significant credit, Mr. Heloya Ishikawa, the piano technician specially assigned to the EX by the Kawai factory, who accompanied it to Las Vegas to insure that it was set up flawlessly. He seems to have accomplished that mission admirably. Finally, engineer John Kiehl recorded, mixed, mastered and co-produced the performance, and created one of the best sounding piano recordings I've heard in the process.

None of that would matter so much, of course, if the performance itself wasn't as masterful as the instrument and technicians. Mike Jones became enamored of the piano listening to his parents Oscar Peterson albums as a child, and when his childhood idol recommended Boston's Berklee College Of Music as an appropriate place to develop his craft, Jones was on his way. While at Berklee, he became an acolyte of Dave McKenna's formidable left hand technique. Combining that rock solid foundation with his emulation of Peterson's right hand pyrotechnics produced a result that ranges from excellent to astonishing. That range is on full display on the eleven tracks of this release.

When I played this one for the piano player in my house, she just kept shaking her head and saying "Do you know how hard that is to do?" Well, as a matter of fact, I don't. I'm a string player, myself, and all keyboard parts sound hard enough. I do know how good it sounds, though, and it sounds spectacular. There are plenty of peaks, but they're hard to single out because the valleys are very shallow. There's not a misplaced note or an unsatisfying moment to be found. This is very simply the best solo piano performance I've heard this year, and rivals any I've ever heard. It's not to be missed.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mike Jones
  • CD Title: Stretches Out
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Chiaroscuro Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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