From The Art of Jazz Piano and 1 other release
“Love Dance”, for listeners not familiar with Joe Bonner, recalls both his main inspiration, McCoy Tyner, and the man he replaced in Roy Haynes’ band back in the 70s, Chick Corea. Bonner is fully capable of the sort of pyrotechnic “wall of sound” that is Tyner’s trademark but also leans heavily toward the lyricism and heart-on-sleeve romanticism of Corea’s best stuff, circa “Improvisations, Volume One”. The melodies continue to shift and evolve as the piece progresses; the audio equivalent of watching waves form and crash for seven minutes. Bonner’s amazing embellishments are everywhere but they never become the centerpiece and are never gratuitous. He seems to finish a phrase, then suddenly jumps maybe an octave to elaborate on it, effortlessly pulling a phrase here and a grace note there from sources as disparate as the classical pianists - Rubenstein, Cliburn, et al - that he studied while in college, to middle-Eastern and Asian influences. His impressive eclecticism never overtakes his way with a melody, though, and “Love Dance”, like all his slower works, displays a classicist’s love for a great melody and evolving tempi and dynamics that spring straight from the heart of trad jazz ballads. Joe Bonner is a pianist of produgious gifts and deserves a MUCH larger audience.
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