Highly acclaimed pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs (pronounced Oh-Nah-Jay) voice is expansive, lyrical, sensitive, and poise as this approach to the piano draws sonically from the heart and soul of the elder statesmen in jazz. True, his name is not exactly a household one. However, his peers and jazz enthusiasts alike consider him an unsung hero, virtuoso, a player’s player if you will. I’m excited and honored to review, his 2000 release, “Return to Form” recorded “Live at The Blue Note” which is his first “Live” recording to date releases back in 2003.
Onaje, as usual has armed himself with a more then sufficient cast of musicians on this remarkable live recording he is accompanied by bassist Marcus McLaurine, drummer Payton Crossley, percussionist Gary Fritz, and on several tracks, saxophonist René McLean. As the title implies, Onaje returns to his roots when he played and recorded music with the definitive voices in jazz Norman Connors, Nate Adderly and Woody Shaw.