Gary Giddins
January 17, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Beyond the Bluebird

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Tommy Flanagan
Producers
Timeless
genre
Jazz

We gave it an A

When novice jazz musicians try to play bebop, they often flaunt furious tempos and tangled skeins of 16th notes. The masters of the idiom show, instead, that bop at its best is a miracle of relaxation, the ultimate test of thinking on your feet in the middle of a storm. Tommy Flanagan is one of the most widely admired living bop pianists, and Beyond the Bluebird is a model of inspired poise. His usual trio (bassist George Mraz and drummer Lewis Nash) is expanded to include master guitarist Kenny Burrell, who, like Flanagan, is a native of Detroit, which was home to a celebrated 1940s jazz club called the Bluebird Inn (hence the record’s title). The selections hark back to that era, with two Charlie Parker blues (including ”Bluebird”) and Jerome Kern’s ”Yesterdays.” Flanagan’s piano ripples like waves in the moonlight, his harmonies are sumptuous- — and the interaction among him and his three sidemen is eerily psychic. A

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