Jazz Review: Tommy Flanagan Plays Ladybird

August 24, 2018

Ladybird comes up almost countless times in various recordings, and here it is again - this time performed by two modern jazz pianists, Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones. 


According to Wikipedia, Hank Jones was born in 1918 and lived past ninety years old, dying only in 2010. He had a long and successful career with numerous albums and even performed for President Kennedy. 


Tommy Flanagan, on the other hand, was born in 1930 and died several years earlier than Hank Jones, in 2001. But he was just as successful as Jones, if not more - he recorded with several famous jazz musicians, including John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald, and played on practically countless recordings. 


These two jazz pianists recorded the duo album Our Delights in 1978, and it was released in 1979. The album included the jazz standards "Autumn Leaves", "Jordu", and the oft-played "Ladybird", which is described in this jazz review. 


Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones playing "Ladybird". To listen to the recording on YouTube, go to this link


The two pianists performed well together. Both of them had the same concept in mind for what to play, and therefore their version of Ladybird is an excellent demonstration of their improvisational abilities. Throughout the recording, the pianists provide excellent rhythm in both their accompaniment and improvisation. Rhythm is, of course, a very important factor in piano duets, since there are no drums and no bass to provide the rhythm for a group with just pianos. 


While there is an underlying stride influence on this version of "Ladybird", there is also an element of the piano that soars above it, and uses it rhythmically instead of making the stride sound outdated and old-fashioned. Despite the fact that, on this recording, two different musicians are playing at the same time, it is often hard to separate the two when you're listening. This version of "Ladybird" is clearly a gem, from the first note to the last, and definitely deserves more recognition not only from jazz pianists, but also from those who enjoy good, swinging jazz with more than just a touch of bebop. 




Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris did a piano duo of "Well, You Needn't", which is a video and you can watch the musicians play - watch on YouTube


Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan play Autumn Leaves - listen on YouTube




- Wikipedia: Hank Jones (for information about the pianist), Tommy Flanagan (for information about the pianist), and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Delights for information about this album

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