Noah Haidu: Momentum (2013)
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A quick glance at the monochrome photo that adorns the cover of Momentum could lead to the impression that the pianist is George Gershwin. It isn't, of course, it's Noah Haidu and this is his second album as leader. Any similarities between Haidu and Gershwin end with the shadowy cover shotHaidu most definitely looks to more contemporary influences for his inspiration.
Haidu's debut album, Slipstream (Posi-Tone Records, 2011), was a quintet affair with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon taking on a big slice of the front-line duties. Momentum retains that album's warmth but removes the emphasis on horns. This is a trio outing and while bassist Ariel de la Portilla and drummer McClenty Hunter are in excellent form Haidu is very much the man in front.
The decision to slim down the band suggests that Haidu is gaining confidence as a playeras does his decision to include an impressive cover of Keith Jarrett's "Rainbow." The confidence isn't misplaced. Haidu's selection of covers is shrewd, demonstrating his range both technically and stylistically. Jimmy Van Heusen's "I Thought About You" really swings and the loose, relaxed, version of Thad Jones' "A Child Is Born" captures that tune's inherent grace.
Four of the tunes are Haidu's own. "Momentum" is well named: a driving rhythm from all three players underpins Haidu's melodic lines. "Juicy" shares that drive but adds a few quirks. "Cookie Jar" the best of the bunch, Hunter and de la Porta creating an energy that inspires Haidu to his most assertively swinging performance.
The fourth of Haidu's numbers, "Groove Interlude," is an oddity: a 99 second tune that sounds like it has the momentum (sorry) to go places but never does. Momentum, on the other hand, demonstrates clearly that Haidu's got the talent to go places: it will be fascinating to hear which places he goes to next.
Track Listing: I Thought About You; Momentum; Rainbow; Juicy; A Child Is Born; Groove Interlude; The End Of A Love Affair; Serenity; Cookie Jar.
Personnel: Noah Haidu: piano; Ariel de la Portilla: bass; McClenty Hunter: drums.
Record Label: Posi-Tone Records
Style: Modern Jazz