Bill King Five Aces

Bill King wears many hats: composer, bandleader, producer, festival programmer (the Beaches International Jazz Festival), record label head and journalist. If pressed, the veteran might single out "piano player" as his favourite role, and that takes centre stage on this fine new offering. Five Aces is an all-instrumental trio record that pays homage to King's roots in R&B, gospel, blues and jazz. He enlisted the ace Toronto, ON rhythm section of bassist Collin Barrett and drummer Mark Kelso, while he's equally adept on the Steinway acoustic grand and Hammond B-3. "King City Stomp" has a rollicking boogie-woogie feel, while the B3 fuels the suitably soulful "Stax 'em High," one of the best of King's originals here. Unaccompanied, tender ballad "I'll Chase That Rainbow" is another highlight. Alongside King's eight compositions are the band's fresh takes on soul classics by James Brown, Holland/Dozier/Holland ("How Sweet It Is"), Otis Redding ("I Can't Turn You Loose") and the catchy Floyd/Cropper tune, "634-5789." King comes up trumps on Five Aces. (7arts)