The Harry Pickens trio performed a concert earlier today. They're a jazz trio from Louisville, consisting of Pickens leading with the piano, Chris Fitzgerald taking the bass, and drums played by Jason Tiemann.

To put it mildly, it was brilliant. They played everything from "Back Home Again in Indiana" (one of my favorites), where Pickens showed his influence from Oscar Peterson, to Sting's hit "Fragile", Norah Jones's "Don't Know Why" and Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man."

There were two fantastic things about this performance:

Improvisation

Nobody had any music in front of them. At first, I thought that meant they had practiced so much that the whole set was memorized. As the concert went on, I realized that there wasn't even a set list. Pickens began each tune by playing through it, and then his triomates began to play with him, and it sounded really great. After the intermission, he said that there were no arrangements used by the band, and that every performance was a little different. That leads me to the other thing:

Joy

Pickens's seven-foot frame was sitting at a Steinway grand piano, grinning like Jerry Lewis in characature. Jerry Lewis MDA TelethonThis grin flashed whenever the drummer or the bassist hit a really tasty series of notes. Not only that, but he was jovial with the crowd, even taking requests at the end. (This was a great idea and had very good response from the attendees.)

If you'd like to experience some of the trio, they do have a couple of CDs available. I've not reviewed the recordings, but the live performance was so good that I probably will do so tomorrow.