Happily Evans After
By Bill Milkowski
Ron Di Salvio has a knack for conjuring up clever arrangements for his flexible piano trio, a skill he demonstrated on 2007’s Essence of Green: A Tribute to Kind of Blue. Here he summons up the spirit of pianist Bill Evans on the delicate waltz-time title track and “Carol’s Waltz,” both featuring highly interactive support from bassist Tom Knific and drummer Keith Hall. “Child’s Play” incorporates themes from The Wizard of Oz along with “London Bridge Is Falling Down” and “Pop Goes the Weasel.” The serene “My Space” is a chamber-jazz offering that opens with a quote from Beethoven’s “Sonata in D Minor” before segueing into a spirited Keith Jarrett-ish romp. Other direct influences can be heard on the Afro-Cuban-flavored “Montuno for Monty” and the off-kilter blues “Monk’s Sphere,” which quotes liberally from “Little Rootie Tootie.”
Cyrus Chestnut Trio
Cyrus Chestnut Trio
Cyrus Chestnut's approach to piano is a mix of his gospel roots, effortless swing, lively bop, and lyrical ballad playing. His formative years included a stint with Jon Hendricks and the demanding Betty Carter, although here, accompanied by bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Neal Smith, his session focuses on his original works -- aside from a playful romp through the standard "Lover." His breezy bop vehicle "Smitty's Joint" showcases each member of the trio in turn and is destined to be a perfect set opener. Smith switches to brushes for Chestnut's delicate jazz waltz "Eyes of Angel," a spacious number that shimmers. "Journeys" deceptively opens in a subdued manner, building from a soft ballad setting into an intense climax without ever losing its lyricism. "Goliath" combines various influences from Chestnut's background, incorporating a familiar classical theme and his church pianist roots in a meditative yet gently swinging setting. Cyrus Chestnut's journeys have taken him to many musical destinations, yet he remains a distinctive original pianist whose work has continued to grow.
Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes
Pianists Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes married in 2007, so the had plenty of time to practice for this duo piano date, since they have twin grand pianos in their apartment and have played a few gigs together as well. Both of them have long résumés as leaders and in support of other musicians. Recorded at the 92nd Street Y in New York City (where Charlap took over the reins from Dick Hyman for Jazz in July series a few years earlier), the husband-and-wife team put together a wide-ranging set list. Their arrangement of fusion keyboardist Lyle Mays' "Chorinho" is a brilliant opener, crackling with its infectious Brazilian rhythm. The soft emotional setting of "My Man's Gone Now" proves haunting; the quiet interpretation of Gerry Mulligan's tender ballad "Little Glory" suggests parents watching a sleeping infant; their rendition of Wayne Shorter's "Ana Maria" shimmers with a subtle energy; and Rosnes' "The Saros Cycle" sounds as if it were written for film, suggesting a journey. Although some writers and musicians dismiss two piano meetings as a mere gimmick, this session by proves that two pianists who are in sync with one another's thoughts can produce timeless music. No time should be wasted in scheduling a follow-up.
Richie Beirach Trio
What Is This Thing Called Love ?
by Melodius ThunkAlthough somewhat underrated, Richie Beirach is a consistently inventive pianist whose ability to play both free and with lyricism makes him an original. After studying classical piano, Beirach switched to jazz. He studied at Berklee and the Manhattan School of Music, and took lessons with Stan Getz, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette.
His classical training can sometimes be heard in his more advanced improvisations, along with the sensitivity of a Bill Evans and this disc nicely covers those bases. But its Richie's reharmonisations of these standards that one notices the most. The opening track is a driving, urgent take of the original, Nardis full of tension, Autumn Leaves is wonderfully rhapsodic. As expected with such great sidemen of George Mraz and Billy Hart this CD doesn't just showcase Richie's talent, there's plenty of space to hear their musicianship too.
The Music Of Randy Newman
Vocalist Roseanna Vitro has had big ears when it comes to looking for material for her jazz record dates, investigating songwriters overlooked by others. This Randy Newman songbook is obviously a labor of love, interpreting the veteran composer's lyrics, whether sentimental or sardonic. Her band includes the seasoned rhythm team of pianist Mark Soskin (who also provided arrangements), bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tim Horner, along with the promising young violinist Sara Caswell (who often adds a sublime touch). The rich-voiced alto's rendition of "Sail Away" showcases Caswell to good effect. Vitro has a lot of fun with Newman's hilarious description of attending a pot party in "Mama Told Me Not to Come," with Caswell's whimsical licks complementing the leader's playful, outgoing vocal. The singer captures the essence of Newman's sardonic "Baltimore," though she transforms it with a brisk setting, adding guitarist Steve Cardenas. Vitro's dramatic interpretation of "In Germany Before the War" is also a high point. Jazz fans who grew up listening to Randy Newman will be particularly interested in Roseanna Vitro's novel approach to his music.