DeGreg's Queen City Blues
Bruce Von Stiers
The University of North Texas has many talented alumni of their music program. One such alumni is Phil DeGreg. Not only is Phil known internationally for being a jazz pianist, he also is a Professor Emeritus of Jazz Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Phil has toured at many locations around the world and has helped showcase upcoming talent through various workshops he's taught in.
One of the things that Phil does besides teaching and with being a sideman and solo performer is being a group leader. He has a trio appropriately named the Phil DeGreg Trio. The trio recently released a great album titled Queen City Blues.
Queen City Blues has twelve songs and lasts a bit over an hour. There are some original compositions and some entertaining arrangements of classic songs. The album was recorded at the CCM Studios in Cincinnati. It was released by Prevenient Music. It was engineered, mixed and mastered by Kim Pensyl.
Leading the trio in this recording is Phil on the piano. He is joined by Aaron Jacobs on bass and John Taylor on drums. Like Phil, John teaches at the high school and collegiate levels. He also performs with Kim Pensyl's group and has been working on a solo recording. Aaron is an instructor at the same college as Phil and John. Not only has Aaron played and recorded with several regional groups, he has done work at some prestigious regional studios.
Queen City is a nickname that was given to Cincinnati years ago. It competes with several other cites that claim that name, including Charlotte North Carolina, Seattle, Toronto and Regina, Saskatchewan. But Cincinnati may well be the most vocal about that claim. So it seems fitting that, being that the trio is based there, that the title of the album is Queen City Blues.
First up is an original composition from Phil titled Westside Getaway. It begins with cool piano that reminded me of fast barrel roll jazz. Then the song moves into a fast paced piano piece with slick drums and bass.
Then things slow down quite a bit for a nice rendition of the Gershwin tune, Embraceable You.
Fountain On A Square is the third entry on the album. It was composed by Phil and has a moderate pace. The piano is at times mellow, but has some stronger tones with the bass and drum at different spots.
Another Gershwin tune follows. It is a terrific, endearing rendition of I've Got A Crush On You.
Then the trio does a very nice job with the Steve Swallow song, Falling Grace.
Despite the name, the title track, Queen City Blues, is more solid jazz than blues. It has a slick piano base with cool bass and fine drums.
I've always enjoyed the Jerome Kern song All The Things You Are. It is well done on this album.
Another original composition from Phi is Five For All. It is a moderately pace piece with strong piano and bass.
My Foolish Heart is a song that is often on jazz albums. This Victor Young song is beautifully done by the trio.
Jobin songs have been covered a lot over the years. It seems that one in particular, Favela, is getting covered more lately. A short time ago I reviewed an album that featured that song. It is on this album as well. You can't help but tap your feet and bop your head to this great Latin song.
Once more slowing things down, the trio gives the listener a pretty decent rendition of the Richard Rogers classic My Romance.
Cherokee is the final song on the album. This Ray Noble classic has been recorded by such greats as Art Tatum, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker. Phil and the others in the trio do a terrific job for their rendition of the song.
Cincinnati may or may not be able to truly claim the title of Queen City. But that doesn't stop great music coming out of that city. And one of the best jazz groups I've heard from there is the Phil DeGreg Trio. I really enjoyed Queen City Blues with both the great original compositions and terrific renditions of some of the best jazz standards.
You can get a copy of Queen City Blues through CD Baby, amazon or other music retailers.
Learn more about the Phil DeGreg trio through Phil's official web site at http://www.phildegreg.com/
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© 2017 Bruce E Von Stiers