Joe Bonner’s rare ‘Impressions Of Copenhagen’ album enjoys a welcome reissue via the Pure Pleasure. The original recording was released on the Theresa record label in 1981; a label noted for the many Pharoah Sanders releases. Joe Bonner was the choice pianist on some of Pharoah Sanders’ classic recordings for both Theresa and Impulse during the 1970s and he featured alongside the likes of Billy Harper, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Brooks and Harold Vick for labels including Strata-East, Prestige, Muse, Black Saint and Steeplechase during the 1970s. Joe Bonner also recorded several solo and trio albums during his career including ‘Monkisms’, ‘Lifesaver’ and ‘Parade’. His boundless creativeness and distinctive sound made for compelling listening on these albums; his unmistakable style of playing has often been referenced to that of McCoy Tyner and to a lesser extent, Art Tatum.
This 1981 debut for the Theresa label is one of the highlights from his career and a beautiful album with four original compositions from the six chosen pieces. As well as the original Joe Bonner compositions, Cal Massey’s ‘Quiet Dawn’ and Billy Strayhorn’s classic jazz standard ‘Lush Life’ are both given a memorable distinctive accent and feel. ‘Quiet Dawn’ is a 10-minute fitting tribute to the composer and activist who composed pieces including ‘Bakai’, ‘Fiesta’, ‘Nakatini Serenade’ and ‘Assunta’ for artists including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan and Archie Shepp.
The opening track, ‘Impressions Of Copenhagen’, is a catchy modal piece that is most definitely a highlight from this strong album; a beautiful arrangement with some captivating improvisation and a memorable sound, which carries through to the rest of the album. The string quartet, flute, bass, drums, trombone and trumpet add a particular uniqueness and a distinctive appeal that seemed like new territory for Joe Bonner. His 1976 album ‘Angel Eyes’ featured the renowned violinist Leroy Jenkins for that earlier outing so the idea for a string quartet may have been planted around that time.
Joining Joseph Bonner on piano and chimes for this recommended reissue were Paul Warburton on bass, J.Thomas Tilton on drums, Holly Hofmann on flute, Gary Olson on trombone, Eddie Shu on trumpet, and the string quartet featured Carol Garrett on viola, Carol Michalowski on violin [1st], Peggy Sullivan on violin [2nd], and Beverly Woolery on the cello.
This album comes highly recommended and a great starting point to explore the music of the composer and pianist Joe Bonner.