As a young boy, John Krantz remembers joining his father to listen to Speck Redd at Vic’s Tally-Ho Restaurant. “I wasn’t that interested in jazz at the time,” admits John, who spent his early years playing in local rock and progressive music bands in the 1970s.
After studying jazz, he became more comfortable playing the music and was coaxed into performing in public by bassist Ross Cornelison. Today, you’ll find John playing in various formats throughout the community. He is also the chair for the CJC Jazz Hall of Fame. We asked John to sample tracks from various piano players and give us his reaction to the music and the musicians.
(After the introduction) It’s “Like Someone in Love,” a great standard. Sounds like Barry Harris or someone definitely influenced by him. Barry is one of the last great true boppers alive. To hear him in trio format playing standards like this is classic Barry Harris. I could listen
to this type of playing all day.
MCCOY TYNER • REACHING FOURTH
These guys are swinging hard. I like it a lot. The piano player has some chops. Definitely has some McCoy Tyner influences with the use of fourths and pentatonic scales. (After learning that it is McCoy Tyner) I have that record. Normally you can hear McCoy play one bar and you know it’s him, but this is a little older release.
BENNY GREEN • OPUS DE FUNK
I’m very familiar with this tune, but can’t remember the title at moment. There are some lines in there that sound like a piano player I have heard before but I can’t identify who it is. Is this Benny Green? I appreciate the fact that he is rooted in tradition and has great respect for the musicians that came before him. The integrity of his playing and his attack are like no one else. I can hear him now. That’s Benny, and I love it!
HANK JONES • BEAUTIFUL LOVE
I’m trying to think of the title of this tune. It’s a great minor key tune. This could be a lot of different players. I’m thinking an older player from Detroit — Barry Harris or Tommy Flanagan? Is it Hank Jones? Hank has such an elegant touch. He never gets too carried away but he has one of those styles that is always perfect for the song.
CEDAR WALTON • DEAR RUTH
It’s a very relaxed player. I’m thinking maybe Cedar Walton. I have a great deal of respect for his playing. Cedar is one of the true masters that we lost several years ago. I can usually tell Cedar Walton’s playing because he has some distinctive stylistic things he always brings to the music.
STU CALHOON • BLUE AND GREEN
(After the introduction) That’s a dear friend of our local jazz community — Stu Calhoon. He’s killing that classic Bill Evans/Miles Davis tune. Stu was such a beautiful and sensitive player. I’m glad you played this for me. And a great rhythm section, too — Susie Miget on bass and Pete Simonson on drums.
GEORGE CABLES • LTD
(Immediately) That’s George Cables playing a tune associated with the great Dexter Gordon — LTD (Long Tall Dexter). It’s George all the way. One of my favorite piano players.
MULGREW MILLER • WHAT AM I HERE FOR
This is a classic Duke Ellington tune. Once again, this player‘s attack and lines sound very familiar to me. (After learning that it is Mulgrew Miller) Because he was a sideman for so many years, Mulgrew had the versatility to play anything and with anyone. I had the opportunity to see him with Kenny Washington and Lewis Nash in Cambridge, MA, a few years back. He was a big powerful man like Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner, but when he sat on the piano he could play with tremendous sensitivity. Like the tune we’re listening to now, everything Mulgrew played was perfect.