CDs and Critics’ Reviews

Debbie Poryes, long based in the San Franciso area, is a talented modern mainstream pianist. On her recent trio album, an homage to Hank Jones (1918-2010), she sometimes sounds a bit like McCoy Tyner and displays the influence of Bill Evans in some of her chord voicings and her close interplay with bassist Peter Barshay. However, she mostly sounds very much like herself.

While the picturesque “Loving Hank” utilizes flugelhornist Erik Jekabson in the ensemble, the remainder of this project is a mixture of standards and originals performed by her trio with Barshay and drummer David Rokeach. The familiar tunes, such as “How About You,” “Autumn In New York” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” are reharmonized and modernized a bit without losing their essence. “Confirmation” is a joy, showing that Poryes can play bebop quite well.

Of the originals, the energetic “The Wish,” the downbeat ballad “Tears We’ve Shed” and the complex “Tossing, Turning” are particularly memorable. Due to the mood and tempo variations, along with the consistently inventive piano solos, Loving Hank holds one’s interest throughout. This is one of Poryes’ finest recordings to date.
— Scott Yanow, DownBeat
Poryes plays with melodicism and rhythmic perfection.
— Jazz Review
…her infectious gifts as an abundantly creative jazz pianist-composer-arranger points out her distinctive identity among the huge crowd of excellent pianists. Easily perceptible is her genuine, spirited exuberance for the music, the piano and the open interaction with her bandmates – a standout quality of her engagingly personal and musical personality. Impressive, too, is how her swinging joyousness articulates every note she plays.
— Herb Wong
A musician you should be aware of is pianist Debbie Poryes. Her playing is confident, yet playful, thoughtful, but full of life.
— Jazz Chicago
“A Song in Jazz” is a ‘must have’ for those who love improvisational music interpreted with harmonic and melodic beauty using subtle dynamics.
— Lee Thomas, KCSM
A longtime faculty member at the California Jazz Conservatory who also teaches privately, Poryes has released a number of albums focusing on her beautifully crafted original compositions. On the radiant “Loving Hank” she alternates between thoughtful arrangements of pop songs (Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”), bebop anthems (Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation”) and standards (Vernon Duke’s “Autumn in New York”) with lyrically charged originals like the halting and disarmingly funky ballad “Phrases of the Moon.”
— Andy Gilbert
It must be assumed that pianist Debbie Poryes has named her trio album as an homage to Hank Jones, as her compositions, as well as her interprations, display a similar gentility and regality as the famed bop icon. With Peter Barshay/b and David Rokeach/dr she produces a wistful “Both Sides Now” while creating sublime colors on “Autumn in New York.” Even Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” is relaxed and elegant, while the title track dedicated to the maestro includes the glowing horn of Erik Jekabson to create an extra prism of light. Subtle and charming.
— Jazz Weekly in LA
Dramatic, spacious, spirited, shimmering piano. Strong originals.
— All Music Guide

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