As with Tatum, the pleasure here is vicariously tactile—you feel those extended runs of Taylor's (they gather momentum and then stop short, like waves cresting without splashing the shore) throughout your entire body, starting in your fingers. As if conceding no ground to Duval, he positions himself in the bass clef for much of the performance, and his attack is so brutal that during the few moments of silence, you can still hear the piano's wood vibrating. Faced with irrelevance in the wake of Taylor's one-man call-and-response, Duval, familiar from his work with Joe McPhee in Trio X, shifts resourcefully between selfless accompaniment and head-on encounter—his role is to provide Taylor with a canvas, and he does, artfully. There are at least three separate movements here, including an uncharacteristically lyrical one about halfway through and another resembling a mambo, of all things, toward the end. Be warned that Taylor indulges in some antic nonsense with his poetry and sound-text about 40 minutes in. But I know from experience that it must have been fun in person, and it's far more integral to Taylor's artistic vision than Jarrett's atonal bleating is to the poor likes of "Body and Soul."

Jarrett and Charlie Haden, awash in intimacy
Reto Caduff/ECM Records
Jarrett and Charlie Haden, awash in intimacy

Though The Last Dance takes first prize, there seems to be no end to satisfying piano albums lately, and I'd be remiss for not calling attention to two by Geri Allen: the solo Flying Toward the Sound, mostly taken up by a suite in tribute to her forebears on which she comes close to pulling off the difficult trick of reconciling Taylor's steely intellect with Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner's very dissimilar styles of impressionism; and Geri Allen & Timeline Live (both on Motema), where she blends the sensational tap prodigy Maurice Chestnut into her working trio. British transplant John Escreet's Don't Fight the Inevitable (Mythology) earns comparison to experimental Blue Note touchstones like Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch and Andrew Hill's Point of Departure for the logic with which freewheeling solos (by Escreet, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and alto saxophonist and co-producer David Binney) emerge from the leader's maze-like originals. You presumably already know about Jason Moran's Ten (Blue Note), but you should also be aware of Equality (Fresh Sound New Talent), the debut album by his drummer, Nasheet Waits, featuring Moran's Bandwagon with added starter Logan Richardson on alto, and enlivened by Moran's snaky piano figurations. Then there are Mosaic's Ahmad Jamal box and Dick Hyman's multi-disk history of jazz piano from ragtime on. These will be going with me on vacation, and I promise to tell you all about them when I get back.

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