February 03, 1986 12:00 PM

Bill King Quintet

King, 39, is a pianist who was born in Indiana and has worked with such varied performers as Freddy Cannon, Jimi Hendrix, Linda Ronstadt and Janis Joplin. But during the Vietnam War he deserted the Army after serving 10 months and fled to Canada, where he still lives. (The clemency declared by President Ford allowed him to return to the U.S. in 1976, and he served as musical director for Martha Reeves and the Pointer Sisters before settling in Toronto permanently.) This album, his third under his own name, features some emotionally intense vocals by Liberty Silver, a 24-year-old Detroit native now living in Canada, and sax and flute playing by Pat La Barbera, a former sideman for Buddy Rich. King’s make-every-note-count playing is reminiscent of Bill Evans in its clean, direct lines and small melodic surprises. Though a couple of the tracks—notably Summer Heat—seem to meander more than necessary, La Barbera and King collaborate especially well on such Latin-tinged tunes as Angelina (think of the sound of Herbie Mann’s band in his bossa nova period) and Miles Davis’ Four. Silver sings, with considerable strength, on four tracks, most profitably on the Billie Holiday standby God Bless the Child. It all adds up to a satisfying combination of comfort and excitement. (Night Passage Music, 22 Helena Ave., Toronto M6G2H2)

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