Noah Haidu: Slipstream (2011)
Haidu tapped some heavyweights for this recording, including trumpet giant Jeremy Pelt and Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition-winner Jon Irabagon, and both men prove to be perfect for his music. They deliver warp speed solos over up-tempo swing ("Slipstream") and blend beautifully when winding their way through the head on Haidu's "Soulstep." Pelt's broad-toned trumpet confidently swaggers over the rhythm section on "The Trouble Makers," and both men duke it out in a no-holds-barred brawl on "Break Tune." Irabagon's playing with the left-leaning, humor-heavy ensemble Mostly Other People Do The Killing has marked him as an avant-garde adventurer in the minds of some jazz fans, but this music is an excellent example of his stellar playing in a more settled vein.
While the horn players deserve a good amount of credit for their contributions to these pieces, it's still Haidu's show, and has his handsfiguratively and literallyin everything that happens on this album. Whether the band is moving through an organically flowing waltz ("Float"), a slightly slick vehicle ("Take Your Time") or a reshaped standard, molded to fit with Haidu's vision (Cole Porter's "Just One Of Those Things"), he always finds the perfect part for each song. "Where We Are Right Now" is an excellent example of Haidu's holistic view of the piano's role in music. He sets up the rhythmic direction of the music with his chordal statements, supports the horn lines, enhances some of bassist Chris Haney's movements and solos with passion and purpose. He even seems to develop a telepathic rapport with drummer John Davis, as both seem to lock in with one another and turn up the heat during Haidu's solo spot.
Slipstreams soars and flows in all the right ways with Haidu piloting his music from the piano.
Track Listing: Soulstep; Where We Are Right Now; Slipstream; Break Tune; Float; Take Your Time; Just One Of Those Things; The Trouble Makers.
Personnel: Noah Haidu: piano; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Jon Irabagon: alto saxophone; Chris Haney: bass; John Davis: drums (2, 4, 5, 7, 8); Willie Jones III: drums (1, 3, 6).
Record Label: Posi-Tone Records