We gave it an A
Back in the ’40s, when Don Asher was a skinny Jewish kid, he idolized black jazz pianists Jaki Byard and the great Art Tatum. Not in their league, but ambitious all the same, he learned piano in raunchy dives with names like the Bucket of Blood and the Good Ship Madam Zucchini.
Notes From a Battered Grand nails its era in a vigorous, improvisational style, with hammered wise-guy phrases, lush and stirring passages, quick tempo shifts, and soft closings. As American as Huck Finn and sometimes as funny, this live-wire kid, shuttling between his uptight white world and the company of black musicians, proves the great business of America was never business, but creation, celebration, jazz.