June 13, 2024


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CD review: Tommy Flanagan – In His Own Sweet Time 2021: Video, CD cover

With a name revered in the jazz world but almost totally unrecognised elsewhere, Tommy Flanagan, who died in 2001 aged 71, was the complete pianist. In the late 50s he played on John Coltrane’s Giant Steps and Sonny Rollins’s Saxophone Colossus, followed by years as accompanist to Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett.

It wasn’t just that he was reliable; Flanagan made even the very best sound better. When, finally, he emerged as a leader in his own right, the full extent of his brilliance became clear. He was much admired for his touch, a quality difficult to define but easy to recognise.

It’s certainly in full bloom on this 1994 live album, one of his few completely solo recordings (although not his only one, as the notes here imply). This is its first release.

The 10 tracks, all slow-to-moderate in tempo, include such rare delights as Tadd Dameron’s If You Could See Me Now and Billy Strayhorn’s Day Dream. Flanagan takes his time, as the album title suggests, but every movement is so purposeful, every phrase so judiciously rounded, that you can almost hear the audience holding its collective breath.

  1. Smooth As The Wind (6:22)
  2. If You Could See Me Now (6:53)
  3. Untired Blues (5:25)
  4. Some Other Spring (4:37)
  5. How Long Has This Been Going On (4:46)
  6. Who Can I Turn To? (4:23)
  7. Just Squeeze Me (4:37)
  8. Day Dream (5:04)
  9. Valse Hot (5:06)
  10. Good Bye (5:46)

Tommy Flanagan – solo piano

Birdland Jazz Club, Germany, October 9th, 1994.

Tommy Flanagan – In His Own Sweet Time (2020, CD) - Discogs

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