Dedicated to two friends who heroically perished on that fatal New York autumn morning, the stark black and white "In Memoriam" look of pianist Pete Malinverni's new release belies the hope that lies within. Malinverni reprises the Vernon Duke classic title and tastefully uses his friends' courageous acts to deliver a prayer of hope to the city we all still so love. By including new arrangements of timeless pieces written by native New Yorkers Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen alongside his original compositions, Malinverni inspires us to look forward while remembering our past.
The opening cut, "Simpatico," a tribute to his 13-year old stepson, is hope for the future. A bouncy melodic tune, it depicts youth's ability to meet life's challenges. Likewise, "Little David" celebrates the triumph of youth, faith and spirit over the world's Philistines. Bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Leroy Williams take uplifting duets midway through each of these tunes.
This trio's playing from beginning to end shows them to be experienced partners who easily change moods, yielding a cohesive statement overall. With this, their fourth CD together, the players have gelled as a unit and are evidencing a camaraderie akin to that which pianist Brad Mehldau has with his often recorded threesome. Malinverni plays with a precision that cradles hidden subtleties including slightly dissonant chords, a playful double ending on "Too Close for Comfort" and a wonderfully surprising tango rhythm on "Contemplative."
The soulful, mournful requiem "Elegy" serves as an elegant tribute to lives lost and gives new meaning to Arlen's "My Shining Hour" as its early tempo changes turn tragedy into hope. The title piece is a pensive sound portrait with dirgelike opening chords that serve to underpin a melancholy rendering of the familiar melody. Piano and bass stray in and out of improvisation to present personal reflections on the theme. A listen to Autumn in New York endorses Monk's musical compliment to the city, "Jazz is New York."
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz - New York .
Personnel: Dennis Irwin - Bass
Pete Malinverni - Piano, Liner Notes
Leroy Williams - Drums