Chuck Leavell's gracefully rolling blues piano style has been heard on dozens of records by top-shelf pop stars, including Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers Band, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, and, si

Chuck Leavell's gracefully rolling blues piano style has been heard on dozens of records by top-shelf pop stars, including Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers Band, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, and, since 1982, the Rolling Stones. With Forever Blue, Leavell steps out on his own with his first collection of tunes for solo piano. An impressionistic and largely improvised set, Forever Blues is drenched in gospel and doused with barrelhouse blues. The melodies leave no doubt as to the pianist's Southern roots. Leavell—a noted tree farmer and conservationist in his home state of Georgia—turns in an especially passionate reading of "Georgia on My Mind." His "Song for Amy" and "A Lotta Colada" carry obvious inspiration from Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy." Rambling into more pastoral territory are "Blue Rose" and "Just Before Dawn," which carry vaguely classical themes. His take on the hymn "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" is a soulful New Orleans-style lament that breaks into a joyous boogie-woogie. Throughout, Leavell's technique is flawless and his performances are inspired. Contact: 212-717-7957.—SA

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