A mixture of recurring motifs and improvisational soloing, the bebop stylizing of pianist Mike Longo is reflective of the generation of music where he came from, which is that of the late '50s and early '60s. A time when saying you're a fan of jazz denoted your good taste or savoir faire in music. Longo's new recording To My Surprise bolsters a collage of swinging soirees like "Limbo" buffered by the relaxing torch lit embers of "Alone Again." The tracks are made for the nightclub ambience both congenial and upbeat reminiscent of Mary Lou Williams and Roy Eldridge.
Supported by bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Lewis Nash, trumpeter/flugelhorn player Jimmy Owens, and tenor saxophonist Lance Bryant, Longo shows he keeps in excellent company with some of America's finest beboppers. Ironically, their shared history and likes in jazz don't date the album. The techniques administered are chiefly reminiscent of their mentors such as Oscar Peterson, Lionel Hampton, and Dizzy Gillespie creating majestic tiers with their instrument parts, but their texture and temperature holler contemporary American swing. Cranshaw's bass solo on "I Hadn't Any One 'Til You" has a sumptuous scat jouncing, and the swinging thrusts of Lewis Nash's drumming along "Old Devil Moon" is crisp and nimble. The flare of the horns coast with a languid swagger in "Magic Bluze" demonstrating a smooth kindling liken to B.B. King, as the swaying Latin rhythm applied on the title track pervades a balmy frequency.
Mike Longo's recording projects life is beautiful or at least he has found beauty in music. His quintet embraces the past while living in the present, and bridges the two worlds into a sonic escape that's elevates the ears. It's a desirable place to be.