Pianist Kevin Hays has taken a break from his Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds on his album “New Day” (see review on these pages from Oct 12, 2015) and recorded in acoustic trio format for “North”, his latest release. Music from the album was the main thing at Kitano on Thursday night, where I attended the second set.
Kevin played a completely slowed-down, just beautiful arrangement of “Cherokee” that became so frantically haunting that I even heard some “On A Clear Day” changes during the performance (which weren’t involved of course). I’ve never really been a fan of simply playing the standards unless you have something new to say, something meaningful, or something simply wonderful which he clearly stated with this interpretation. Elsewhere, Kevin sang one piece from “North”, a track called “Sweet Caroline” and no, it is not the Neil Diamond tune, but an original. His voice tends to be going into some folk/rock-oriented material whereas on “New Day”, I still think he sounds a bit like Bill Withers.
Playing some concise solos and taking up steam on bass was Orlando Le Fleming, the Birmingham, U.K.-born musician who also has a few albums out under his own name, and Greg Joseph on drums. So you really had a fancy concoction of jazz, folk/rock, and some impressionistic, classical-induced playing on this set, everything played with grace and a truly individual and sincere approach.