Benny Green Magic BeansGreen’s inspiration for this set of original compositions was the distinctive trumpet/sax front-line sound of Blue Note’s classic ’50s and ’60s quintets. But here’s the rub: No sax or trumpet is included. Instead, through his piano playing within a trio setting, Green seeks to imply the harmonic qualities that those instruments would normally provide. He succeeds. As always, the pianist brings precision and insight to his swinging, purposeful playing. The same virtues shine in master Kenny Washington’s drumming. There is no better choice of timekeeper for Green’s artistry. Supported by a frequent rhythm mate, bassist Peter Washington, Kenny and his top-shelf swing feel ride the sweet spot from the first bar to the last, always forward moving yet so relaxed. The drummer outlines and punctuates phrases with incredibly crisp precision, and his solo spots are mini compositions. And on the ballad “Harold Land,” Washington expresses pulse with the softest whisper of brush dynamics. Sterling straight-ahead. (Sunnyside)

Jeff Potter