Mike Longo

Only Time Will Tell

Mike Longo draws from two streams on the strong Only Time Will Tell. One is his reverence for classic repertoire—its familiarity and craftsmanship. The other is his history as a modernist, especially in his affiliation with Dizzy Gillespie and affection for elonious Monk.

Throughout this album, the distinctions between these two wellsprings fade, and the similarities are what remain. For instance, on one Gillespie tune, “Wheatleigh Hall,” the trio rides along at a breezy clip, as they might with any other medium-tempo blues; they take in the passing scenery rather than stop and dig a little deeper now and then.

On the Monk tunes, they approach idiosyncrasies with particulars of Monk’s own style. This works well enough on “Brilliant Corners.” Echoing Ben Riley’s press rolls, silences and fills, drummer Lewis Nash keeps everyone on track at very slow tempos, setting a nice contrast to the impending swing section.

Longo originals seem to grow from single seeds. On “Conflict Of Interest,” it’s an ascending left-hand figure on the piano. On the title track, a ballad, it’s the melody, beautifully conceived and played tenderly by Longo.

The highest points of Only Time Will Tell are the first and last tracks. On the opener, Longo concocts a clever arrangement for the Annie showstopper “Tomorrow,” on which the band punches all three notes where the title occurs in the lyric (a musical conceit that also sets up a shift to samba feel). They leave us with a very slow “Memories Of You.” Though the minor ninths Longo employs in bars 5 and 6 are slightly jarring, he caresses the rest of the tune with delity and love.

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