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Death don't have no mercy in this land
JEAN-MARIE JUIF | BESANCON France | 10/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As Reverend Gary Davis used to sing, ol' death don't have no mercy in this land.A few weeks after Ray Brown and Lionel Hampton,a few days after Dodo Marmarosa, Ellis Larkins also passed away,September 29,2002. He was 79 years old.
Born May 15,1923,Baltimore,he started studying piano at four.His mother was a pianist,and his father played violin.He gave his first concert at 12,in 1935.Then,in 1940,he became a student at the Juilliard School of Music,NYC,and played at the same time at the Uptown Café Society.Then,he played and recorded with (among others) Ben Webster,Lucky Millinder,Louis Armstrong,Edmond Hall,Sonny Stitt,Coleman Hawkins,Dickie Wells,Bill Coleman,Josh White,Aretha Franklin,Helen Humes,Ella Fitzgerald,Mildred Bailey,Maxine Sullivan and Chris Connor.He allways was one of the singers' favorite piano players,because of his perfect tase,exceptionnal sense of harmony and magnificent swing.I even think he was an important influence on Bill Evans.Like Bill Evans,he was an accomplished classical player (you can feel it listening to this album).
Like almost each "Maybeck piano solo" album,this one is a treasure.Other great moments are albums by Jaki Byard,Barry Harris,Hank Jones,Jessica Williams,Cedar Walton,Gene Harris,Roger Kellaway,Marian McPartland or Don Friedman.But Ellis Larkins was a rare piano player,so this is an exceptionnal opportunity to discover him alone,playing before sixty very lucky listeners.The repertoire is outstanding: no less than five tunes were turned into masterpieces by Billie Holiday: "I don't want to cry anymore","No more","when a woman loves a man","I'm through with love",and the gigantic "God bless the child".Two songs come from the Duke Ellington songbook: "I let a song go out of my heart" and "Things ain't what they used to be"(written by Duke's son,Mercer Ellington).The remaining tracks are standards,and "Perfume and rain" is a Larkins' original.Ellis' playing is magnificent,just between Teddy Wilson and Hank Jones.Don't miss this rare opportunity to listen to a solo piano record by the great Ellis Larkins."
Unearthly and timeless
JEAN-MARIE JUIF | 11/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"playing from a great, elegant pianist. He was a deep and sensitive musical thinker, and beautifully recorded as is typical in the Maybeck series. Music at its purest."