Daniel Kelly: Emerge (2009)
For his fourth release as leader, pianist Daniel Kelly fronts a trio of Chris Tarry on electric bass and Jordan Perlson drums. Following the diversification of his fully improvised solo suite Portal (3x9 Records, 2009), and Duets With Ghosts (3x9 Records, 2008), which pitched his electric quartet against samples of field recordings by Alan Lomax and voices from the past like Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce and even his own great-grandfather, this represents more mainstream fare, though still with a twist.
On a program of ten original compositions, Kelly's distinctive take on the piano trio sees him switch between genres and instruments even on the same song, like the opening "Moroccan Nutchuck" where a Fender Rhodes solo over funky backbeat and probing bass is followed by a sweeping up-tempo piano excursion, toying with dissonance before reverting to thematic territory. On "Anima/Animus," a lyrical, Keith Jarrett-esque melody jostles with exuberant Latin beats before eventually finding accommodation. Ohio native Kelly's mastery of Afro-Cuban rhythms, affirmed by his work with drummer/bandleader Bobby Sanabria and conga legend Candido Camero, emerges frequently, as on the title track where a rolling prepared piano introduction gives way to a joyful Latin groove.
Kelly pays homage to his wife on both the tender ballad "July 25th" and the more upbeat "Song for Katherine," which features a rippling bass solo that ends with a delightful melodic tag, linking back into the theme. Kelly is such a strong player that the solid time of the rhythm section, even on the rockier pair of "Doppelganger" and "Canary Effect," sometimes seems superfluous, but it will be fascinating in the future to see how Kelly forges the different facets on show here into the singular conception surely to come.
Track Listing: Moroccan Nutchuck; Obfyor; Transience; Emerge; Anima/Animus; Doppelganger; Michelangelo's Uncarved Block;; Song for Katherine; Canary Effect.
Personnel: Daniel Kelly: piano, Rhodes; Chris Tarry: electric bass; Jordan Perlson: drums.