Tulip Frenzy’s #4 Album of 2010: Hans Chew’s “Tennessee And Other Stories”

Interestingly, in the same time frame in which Leon Russell released an album with Elton John — which admittedly we haven’t heard, but which we presume was recorded in a brightly lit, expensive studio, with wet bar and catering — the pianist who seems to have most absorbed the sound from Russell’s first album, Hans Chew, produced a solo album that by contrast is a hand-polished work of understated, oft-time raucous craftsmanship. This is a whole grain and locavore labor of love, a slice of border-state realism produced, where else, in Brooklyn.  If Elton and Leon’s album is a Carnival cruise ship, Tennessee and Other Stories is that Cris Craft beauty you want to cruise around in on top o’ Smoky Mountain lakes.  We admit to being mildly amused by it when first we heard it, but then we just couldn’t quit playing it, until there reached a point that we realized Chew’s roadhouse piano and Three Calendar restaurant home cooking had the grit of substance and the flavor of sweet honey.  And that it might just last, like a raree show oddity, and inspire generations with its purity, its great songwriting, and its quiet authenticity.  And man, this guy can play piano.

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