Noah Haidu: Slipstream (2011)
Slipstream is the debut from New York-based pianist/writer Noah Haidu. Featuring an exceptionally talented quintet of musicians, it's a striking first album, full of superb, straight-ahead jazz.
Haidu's compositionshe wrote all but one of the tunesare strong on melody and characterized by a gentle and soulful swing. As a pianist, Haidu sounds equally comfortable as a lead musician or as part of the rhythm section. Of course, his fellow musicians are high quality players themselves, and are key to the album's success.
The frontline features alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. Irabagon is capable of some wild and wacky musical flights, as his work with Mostly Other People Do The Killing and his own Foxy (Hot Cup, 2010) attest. But he's also a class act on more mainstream tunes. Pelt has a luxurious tone on trumpet, and is never less than tasteful in his playing. The two players are inspired choices for Haidu's music, working beautifully together and delivering engaging solos.
"Soulstep" has a warmly familiar style to its melody and arrangement, like a Mike Post TV theme. It's full of movement and pace, with drummer Willie Jones III to the fore and Haidu's deftly positioned chords adding just the right accents. "Where We Are Right Now" features more of Haidu's rhythm work, while Pelt and Irabagon fatten up the sound with some tight unison playing. "Float" does just that, thanks to John Davis' relaxed brush work, while "Break Tune" has a more modern sound, its fractured melody and funky rhythm giving it a harder edge than the other tunes.
Haidu opens the one non-original, Cole Porter's "Just One Of Those Things," in confident style, with some chunky flourishes, before hitting the melody with a real swing. Davis and bassist Chris Haney give the tune an irresistible drive, and Haidu's solo positively rocks.
Slipstream is another fine addition to the Posi-Tone catalog, from a lyrical player with an intriguing line in compositions who's extremely well-served by the rest of the band. Slipstream is mainstream with a flourish.
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