Larry Willis, I Fall in Love Too Easily (The Final Session at Rudy Van Gelder’s) Review
Larry Willis is a jazz pianist and composer that has performed with many legendary names in the genre. He has played and recorded with Paul Murphy, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Hugh Masekela, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Stan Getz, Art Blakey, Art Taylor, Clifford Jordan, Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Earl May, David “Fathead” Newman, Alphonse Mouzon and Carla Bley. For seven years, Willis was the keyboardist for Blood, Sweat & Tears (beginning in 1972). He is comfortable in a wide range of styles, including jazz fusion, jazz-rock, Bop Bebop, and Avant-Garde. His first recording experience was as a singer with the Music and Arts Chorale Ensemble, performing an opera by Aaron Copland under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. However, he decided to concentrate on jazz and has been recording and touring around the world to become a legend in the Jazz world. Willis is now releasing I Fall in Love Too Easily (The Final Session at Rudy Van Gelder’s) on HighNote Records.Positives: Willis has a stunning balance between modal lines and lyrical bop inspired lines, but both are always relaxed and in the pocket. Bottom Line: I Fall in Love Too Easily (The Final Session at Rudy Van Gelder’s) is, unfortunately, Mr. Willis’ last studio recording as he passed on September 29, 2019. Willis first entered Rudy Van Gelder’s legendary Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey studio as a twenty-two-year-old graduate of the Manhattan School of Music on January 29, 1965, to record with Jackie McLean for Blue Note Records. This final recording brings Willis back to the place where he first began his impressive career as a recording artist over six decades later. Joining Willis in the studio was long-time friends Victor Lewis on drums and Joe Ford on alto saxophone. Also, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet and Blake Meister on bass. The quintet plays eight selections with Willis displaying the intense creativity and impeccable taste, which made him such a respected pianist. Willis composed two of the selections, both are lovely melodic gems. “Heavy Blue,” one of Willis’ originals, has an intricate hard bop inspired melody. Willis’ solo is driving, while still being melodic and articulate. The composition was first recorded with Blood, Sweat, and Tears in 1976 with a soulful funk feel. Now the quintet transforms it into an up-tempo swing. “Let’s Play,” the second Willis original, features just the rhythm section of piano, bass, and drums. Here Willis shines, and his lyrical swing style is inspiring. Willis was a real gem of the jazz genre, that’s the short of it!
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I Fall in Love Too Easily (The Final Session at Rudy Van Gelder's)
The Meaning of the Blues
I Fall in Love Too Easily
Release Date: May 29, 2020