How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Until the recording of his new album Haiku , Joey Calderazzo was, he has admitted, frightened by the total exposure of solo piano performance. Indeed, such solo work is daunting to most pianists, particularly in jazz, where the rhythm provided by bass and drums is so integral to the music's movement and swing. Calderazzo, however, exhibits no sign of nerves, and acquits himself nicely on Haiku 's well-balanced and well-recorded program of originals, standards, and one tune each by his sometime boss Branford Marsalis and by his predecessor in the Marsalis band, Kenny Kirkland.
In his earlier recordings, it was often said of Calderazzo that, although he was an exciting and imaginative player with excellent technique, he had not yet found his own voice. Though his playing has deepened with time, this criticism still carries some weight. There is an undeniable familiarity to his work, whether it is the flashes of Chick Corea and Dave Brubeck in the blazing, rollicking "Bri's Dance," Oscar Peterson in the lopsidedly dapper "Just One of Those Things," or Thelonious Monk in the clever stride piece "Dancin' For Singles."
Of course, at this late stage in jazz's development, it's probably unfair to expect pure originality from anyone, and there is no denying that with Haiku, Calderazzo has put together a very strong and consistent set with some lovely moments. A particular highlight is his beautiful treatment of "My One and Only Love," which manages to find new things to express in this well-worn standard. Calderazzo's five originals are all well constructed and memorable as well.
Haiku also manages to avoid the curse of solo piano music, a monochromatic sameness that is wearing over the length of an album, by expertly varying tempo and mood to create a seamless flow. This is the ideal album for thoughtful, relaxed listening, and it will surely tickle the fancy of solo jazz piano fans.
Track Listing: Bri's Dance; Haiku; The Legend of Dan; Chopin; Just One of Those Things; Dienda; A Thousand Autumns; Dancin' for Singles; My One and Only Love; Bri's Dance-Revisited