Tommy Flanagan, Sunset And The Mockingbird
A time-capsule-perfect portrait of New York club jazz late in the 20th Century
When mainstream jazz roared back after 1980, a few distinguished elders finally got some of the attention they deserved. Bop pianist Tommy Flanagan didn't record much for Blue Note in the '50s and '60s, but the label made belated amends with this live birthday date from New York's top basement, recorded when he turned 67 in 1997. (The dry recorded sound really captures that low-ceilinged room.) A model accompanist, notably for Ella Fitzgerald, Flanagan had good taste in abundance and superb timing, which stood him well after he went out on his own. He pares his lines back to just the notes that need playing, as on Ellington's lovely birdcall ballad "Sunset and the Mocking Bird." Flanagan's model accompanists are bassist Peter Washington and the superb drummer Lewis Nash, who spars here and there with the leader. It's a time-capsule-perfect portrait of New York club jazz late in the 20th Century.