And now Gerry Macdonald has recorded him on Choice Records, accompanied by bassist, Buster Williams and drummer Billy Hart. It is a very exciting, warm and witty landscape of music. In it are to be found endless illustrations of the unique style of this highly inventive, tender and uncluttered pianist. I know of no other one who conveys the same textures and highly personal sentiments that Jimmy Rowles does.
Since I am a songwriter, I am in a position to say with some authority that he respects the song, no matter how sophisticated his variations and improvisations may be. And if he plays a ballad, I am certain that he is as familiar with the lyrics as he is with the melody. He is, with all his tenderness and warmth, as strong and direct as he is subjective and vulnerable. He dares to play songs which, in other hands, would be inept and bewildering. But his capacity to find good wherever his fingers take him would make it possible for him to persuade us to consider the worthiness of Mairzy Doats!
Occasionally, there are sudden whipcracks of cynicism and wry anger but only as much as we might feel when the person we have done a favour for fails to thank us. But for those rare moments Jimmy Rowles plays as if he were telling us a bittersweet secret or a outrageously sardonic joke.
His preferences in harmony do not attempt to be the most complete or avant-gardishly fashionable but rather the richest and warmest. Nor does he melodically attempt to play The Minute Waltz in ten seconds.
On the contrary, his style is spare and he clearly seeks only the essential, the apt and the finely honed musical phrase. He is not concerned with showing off or setting fire to a Roman candle factory; he is only firmly expressing the undeviating good taste and elegance, his own loving self.
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