Anyone who can keep a jazz trio intact for ten years, as pianist Lynne Arriale has done, deserves a medal for doing nothing more than that. But Arriale does more. For one thing, she plays flawlessly, as one would expect from someone who has caressed the keyboard as long as she has; for another, she composes and arranges; and last but not least, she charts the course that the trio will follow.
On Come Together, the path Arriale has chosen is one of freshness and originality, canvassing half a dozen of her own compositions, a pair of traditional themes and John Lennon/Paul McCartney's shuffling title selection. Arriale, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Davis work seamlessly togetherno surprise there eitherand if there is any complaint to be made, and a small one at that, it would be with the choice of material. Arriale's compositions are essentially admirable, but any resemblance between them and better-known jazz or popular standards is negligible. The time-honored motifs "Red Is the Rose" (a.k.a. "Loch Lomond") and "Iko, Iko," with its charismatic New Orleans ambiance, are intrinsically more interesting than their counterparts.
But regardless of what she is playing, Arriale pours her heart and soul into the enterprise, a posture that is arguably more important than the basic structure of the song itself, and one with which no reasonable onlooker could find fault. Arriale's technique is beyond reproach, and she uses it to enhance the natural warmth and intelligence of her approach to music in general and jazz in particular. One can't ask for more than that.
Even though the music is at times less than mesmerizing, Arriale's accomplished trio clears that hurdle and celebrates its tenth anniversary in style, making the arduous seem effortless while emphasizing the best qualities in every number. They comprise a formidable team, which one hopes may endure beyond a silver or even a golden anniversary.
Personnel: Lynne Arriale, piano; Jay Anderson, bass; Steve Davis, drums.