Jeff Gardner: Alchemy (2007)
The two opening tracks"Alchemy, a swinging bass/piano unison head, and the bossa nova "Coisa Do Rio as well as the bop-ish "Line For Tommy Flanagan exemplify the many facets of Gardner's well-honed improvisational and compositional skills.
A real gem, "Angel is a lyrical waltz with a Bill Evans-like melody and mesmerizing solos. And the vintage "For Duke & Strayhorn sounds so close to the tributees' musical essence it could have been penned by either two titans.
Agile and expressive, Gardner blends the stylings of modern masters like Paul Bley, McCoy Tyner and John Taylor with straight-ahead hard bop elements. The only negative trait of his playing is the straying, lengthy tirades into which he sometimes ventures. On "Between Our Hearts and the ending of "Stories Untold, both E Phrygian pedals, these just sound superfluous.
That said, Gardner still remains an under-the-radar and overlooked musician. He is a Brazilian music specialist, author and classically-trained composer (he studied with renowned pedagogue Nadia Boulanger in France.) In fact, a deserving mention goes to Universal Jazz France's Daniel Richard for picking up the rights to this recording as well as 1996's Second Home and give them international distribution. In sum, if Alchemy is not Gardner's philosopher's stone, it nevertheless mixes the right ingredients...and emotions.
Track Listing: Alchemy; Coisa Do Rio; Stories Untold; Line For Tommy Flanagan; Waiting On You; Angel; For Duke & Strayhorn; City At The Bottom Of The Sea; Betwen Our Hearts; Zero Gravity; Dancarina; Maastricht; Selva.
Personnel: Jeff Gardner: piano; Gary Peacock: bass.
Record Label: EmArcy
Style: Modern Jazz