Mike Longo Trio - Sting Like A Bee
Longo has been around a long time, and learned some of his earliest piano skills in church and on the famed Chittlin' circuit. He later had the chance to hone some of that brew at the feet of Oscar Peterson. A follow-up to 2007's "Float Like a Buttefly," (get it?) "Sting Like a Bee" breaks no new ground, and sounds exactly like you'd expect a trio steeped in bop wound sound. Still, Longo, along with drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Bob Cranshaw, swing, which is the test of any good jazz band. The rhythm section keeps the bottom solid, allowing Longo to explore the tunes' hearts with spare, choice chords, and phrases that often are memorable, despite their myriad influences from the past.
Most of the dozen songs on the set are covers, with Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me A Bedtime Story" the most resonant. Longo's three compositions, "Checked Bags," a tribute to the late Milt Jackson, the quick hard bop "Bird Seed," and the smoky ballad "Someone to Love," are the most effective. On these tracks, there is a more obvious emotional investment in the songs. While often times "Sting Like a Bee" sounds like a jazz master class-direct, solid, and perfunctory-Longo's playing on his own tunes have a warmth and tension lacking elsewhere on the record.
After twenty or so releases, and a slew of dates with some of the biggest names in jazz over the last forty years, Mike Longo has a wealth of material and chops at his fingertips. Sometimes that can lead to new insights, while at other times it can lead to a paint-by-the-numbers complacency. "Sting Like a Bee" offers both.
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