Personnel: Steve Kuhn (piano); Barry Galbraith (guitar); Toshiko Akiyoshi (piano, celesta).
Recording information: 1963.
Photographer: Ray Ross .
This is surely one of the more unusual jazz LPs to emerge during the 1960s, featuring pianists Steve Kuhn and Toshiko Akiyoshi and bassists Dave Izenzon and John Neves, along with guitarist Barry Galbraith and drummer Pete Laroca Sims, playing country & western songs in jazz arrangements. A lot of jazz fans overlook the fact that there were some strong melodies written by country musicians in the 1950s and 1960s, and many of these songs work very well in the hands of this sextet. Akiyoshi leans more toward bop, with Kuhn usually lagging behind the beat; while Izenzon plays the higher often arco bass parts as Neves walks underneath him. "Hang Your Head in Shame" is particularly adventurous, while Akiyoshi switches to celesta for the ballad "May the Good Lord Bless You and Keep You." This record will likely appeal to the small minority of jazz fans who enjoy duo pianos and songs that are a bit off the beaten path. Finding this long out of print record on the long defunct Dauntless label may be the biggest challenge that collectors face. ~ Ken Dryden