Waltz for Bill
Independent SZC-27426-27 (www.tomszcz.com)
Waltz for Bill is veteran Toronto session player and arranger, Tom Szczesniak’s, love letter to the genius of Bill Evans. It is also the title of his very first CD under his own name after 40 years in the industry playing with everyone from Anne Murray to Thad Jones. Evans isn’t the only piano player to be honoured by Szczesniak, as the late and much-missed Doug Riley (Dr. Music) is remembered here both with a tribute song and a cover of one of his compositions, Dinosaurus. The progressive rock/bop fusion number is a bit of an incongruity, but a palate-cleanser amidst all the ear butterscotch that comes before and after. The disc is steeped in standards and even veers into chestnut territory a time or two, but is a class act from beginning to end. Starting with a mellow but harmonically fresh approach to What Is This Thing Called Love, we get taken on a lush, lovely journey of the likes of Gershwin and Hammerstein with lots of strings, a bit of sax (Michael Stuart and Vern Dorge) and the occasional velvety vocal from Doug Mallory and Cal Dodd.