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CD Review: "The Poughkeepsie Jazz Project"

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If you want to catch some of the best jazz in the Hudson Valley, head over to the Derby bar and restaurant on Main Street in Poughkeepsie. Since 2013, the duo of pianist John Scanlon and bassist Ben Basile has held court there every Tuesday, jamming with an array of local talent each week and establishing Po-Town as a rising force in local bop. Here, Scanlon and Basile, along with drummer Kesai Riddick (since departed), have brought their massive talents from the stage to the studio with their impressive eponymous debut. In keeping with the flavor of their Derby jam sessions, the PJP maintained an open-door policy over the din of this six-song set, allowing an array of fellow travelers to sit in with them for the majority of the album, including sax players Christopher Brellochs ("Caylee") and Joe North ("Elena"), guitarist Joe Heider, and Crazy Feet Pete singing on an illuminating version of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi."

However, the album's finest moments are when it's just Scanlon, Basile, and Riddick left to their own devices and displaying sonic conversation skills rich in the languages of the Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans trios on the opening track "Dream Stalking" and closing number "Baker's Blues." It would be great to hear more material in the pure-trio setting the next time they hit the studio, if and when they find a permanent drummer. But as it stands, Poughkeepsie Jazz Project is a fine testament to the world of jazz across the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Facebook.com/PoughkeepsieJazzProject.

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