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As the scrappy and doggedly independent Reservoir Music label continues its dedication to the piano trio through its New York Piano Series, Pete Malinverni emerges as a voice falling into the tradition of the Series while pursuing his own muse through a confident, no-frills style.
On Of One Mind (referring to the unity of thought among the trio's members), Malinverni re-interprets some standards, as well as the gospel tune "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," with a resolutely middle-register approach. He and his musical partners Irwin and Williams investigate the songs for their inherent melodic value, rather than for their potential for spurring dazzling, but in the end peripheral, feats of piano technique.
That's not to say that Malinverni's understated style compromises originality for approachability. "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" starts with a mournful rubato lead-in that lightens as Malinverni uses the bass register to irregularly accent his right-hand improvisation as a duo with Williams. When Irwin joins in after several choruses, the trio breaks loose as a single unit in a reharmonization of the tune that lessens the brooding and stresses the hope.
"What Is There To Say?" emphasizes the harmonic richness of the tune through block chords densely packed that alternate with an evocative statement of the melody, thus sacrificing unnecessary extremes of the keyboard. On the other hand, "I Love You" rolls out with a right-hand improvisation that circumvents the melody before the trio joins in with lightly brushed percussion and loping bass lines.
Malinverni's tribute to highly regarded Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla is less successful in execution, not because of the performance of the tune. Rather, "Pescara" provides little indication of the passionate extremes inherent in almost all of Piazzolla's tunes, despite the Latin tinge that Malinverni inserts.
No, Malinverni's strength lies in his confident interpretation of standards like "The End Of A Love Affair" or "Blame It On My Youth," as Irwin and Williams intuitively support him tastefully for a sound that's immediately accessible to a broad audience.
Track Listing: Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child; I Love You; What Is There To Say?; The Dragon Roller Coaster Ride; Pescara; The End Of A Love Affair; If Spring Were Only Here To Stay; Blame It On My Youth; Everything I Love
Personnel: Pete Malinverni, piano; Dennis Irwin, bass; Leroy Williams, drums