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Music review: 'North' 

Kevin Hays New Day Trio


Sunnyside Records

The cover of Kevin Hays New Day Trio's album "North" features a detail of a wall in Harlem rich in layers of posters in a variety of styles. The cover is especially appropriate for an album not only multilayered in terms of complexity, but also in terms of musical styles. Hays is a versatile piano player whose interests range from blues (Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night") to classical (an arrangement of the first movement of a song cycle by Schumann) to Chilean Folk (his own "Violetta").

The common denominator is brilliant playing by Hays and excellent work by his trio-mates, Rob Jost on bass (and a bit of ukulele) and Greg Joseph on drums. Aside from his stellar keyboard work, it's Hays's compositions that win the day. His jaunty "Sweet Caroline" nicely rescues that title from Neil Diamond. Especially noteworthy are "Elegy," "Morning," and "North," three pieces that begin as expressive ballads only to build into high-energy juggernauts before returning to their roots.

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