As with any artist of the first or second rank, the work of John Campbell invites continued scrutiny and rewards the scrutinizer with new insights all the time. In the past I’ve focused on the three-dimensional nature of his piano sound, his balance of speed and strength. But while that quality–along with the remarkable melodic imagination it serves–remains irresistible, I’ve lately turned my attention to his left hand. Campbell voices his dense chords so as to let in the light: they blithely reveal their construction, making his improvisations all the more expansive. He’s played in many formats since moving to New York in 1982, from Stan Getz’s quartet to Clark Terry’s big band, and he served as Mel Torme’s musical director for several years; but despite that resume, Campbell watchers are doing a double take at the headline above. That’s because Campbell’s homecomings have been primarily reunions of the great piano trio he led here in the 70s and 80s. This time around, there’s a replacement drummer and the added kick of trumpeter Art Davis, a player of pure and delightful melodic logic; and if Campbell chooses to play the foil by concentrating on the rhythmic and textural aspects of his style–thus further expanding the quartet sound–we’re in for a rare treat. Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Lindner.