In the 1960s pianist Kirk Lightsey was with Chet Baker and Sonny Stitt. In the 70s he was with Kenny Burrell on Sky Street - and you can't but help think of Burrell listening to Mark Whitfield here who dominates this new quartet album as lead voice on several tracks.
In the 80s the Detroiter was with Dexter Gordon, The Leaders, Ricky Ford and Woody Shaw. And the 90s saw sessions with Louis Hayes and the continuation of the discipline of making his own records adding to a lengthening discography of his own begun in 1974.
You get an idea of the longevity of Lightsey's career sensing all the above. In the last 15 years Lightsey has made records under his own name for the Itinera, 33, Criss Cross, Unit, Losen, Steeplechase and now the Canadian label Cellar Live labels.
Recorded very satisfyingly at Smalls in New York in September last year - Lightsey was 84 at the time - the standards strewn selection begins with Dave Brubeck's 'In Your Own Sweet Way' and includes Eddie Harris, Tony Williams, J. J. Johnson and McCoy Tyner material.
Lightsey's much recorded 'Heaven Dance' is also here, a throbbing left hand riff pushes the quartet on to the sound of pleased laughter off. The piece was on Lightsey's 1980s largely solo album Lightsey 2 among other work. And the inclusion of Tony Williams' 'Pee Wee' is another link to Lightsey 2. With Lightsey and Whitfield are the great Victor Lewis on drums with the bass chair held elegantly as ever by Santi DeBriano. Lightsey comps very immaculately throughout. For subtlety and consummate, classic, mainstream, touch you will be hard pushed to find anything close in terms of live piano recordings this year. Concentrate especially on the winning treatment of J. J. Johnson's 'Lament.'