Nuance: The Bennett Studio Sessions
Known strictly as a jazz piano trio artist, Lynne Arriale breaks that mold with the addition of trumpeter Randy Brecker, and it is a welcome complement. This is not to say her piano-bass-drums recordings had run their course -- far from it. What the seasoned and literate brass man brings to the table ignites Arriale's innate passion, and inspires her dream sequence style of playing into a netherworld of darker passion and modernist ideas that are startling in their pure inventiveness. She's stretching further, reaching for deeper energy, and plays beautifully in tandem with her new partner. Bassist George Mraz is also along for this ride, as able as any player on his instrument ever, a fact seemingly lost on far too many listeners and critics. Of the six originals penned by the pianist, "Longing" and "Yada Yada Yada" certainly live up to and reflect their titles perfectly, from serenely sad to bobble head chatter respectively. "Crawfish & Gumbo" uses modified New Orleans funky strut and swing via the drumming of Anthony Pinciotti with Mraz on top, while a quick stairstep motif with only slight Latin inference informs "La Noche." The band tackles Sting's "Wrapped Around Your Finger" in a terrific modal framework and mysterious mood, with Arriale's piano remarkable in its Arabic, flashing style contrasting Brecker's even pace. This is an exemplary interpretation, as is "I Mean You" with the entire band playing brilliant, staggered phrases more pronounced than its writer Thelonious Monk originally conceived. Arriale's Bill Evans influence blossoms during her regal, free, and ethereal version of the standard "I Hear a Rhapsody," while she and the musings of the consistently refreshing Brecker use another slight modality, changing up Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia." A DVD performance with differently programmed tracks and stretched out versions of everything on the CD is available, and in 5.1 surround sound to boot. More and more rewarding upon repeat listenings, this recording fronted by one of the more skilled pianists in modern jazz and a criminally underrated trumpeter commands attention from start to finish, and deserves grand accolades, including a strong candidacy for Jazz CD of 2009.