Alan Broadbent Trio: New York, NY, September 24, 2011
New York, NY
September 24, 2011
Park Avenue's Kitano briefly seemed like Bradley's in its heyday, as piano jazz royalty like Fred Hersch, Bill Mays and Andy Bey converged on a single location to take in the sounds of one of their own. While Alan Broadbent is rightly hailed as one of the best arrangers in the business, praised for his work with Woody Herman in the '70s, and recognized for his contributions to Charlie Haden's Quartet West, his own body of work rarely seems to get the attention it deserves. His albums are a gold standard for standards, and his artistry strikes to the core of showmanship without resorting to showy displays of grandeur. In short, Broadbent's records are album-length master classes on the art of the trio, and those lucky enough to be in the small audience at Kitano on this particular Saturday night bore witness to Broadbent's mastery in this format.
The first set began with a measured, mid-tempo take on "Lullaby Of The Leaves," and the trio immediately established itself with some solid swinging. Drummer Michael Stephans' left foot independence was on display throughout this performance and his solo was a fine essay on the lost art of drum soloing on the melody. The show continued with a medley of Tadd Dameron's "Hot House" and "If You Could See Me Now," and Stephans stole the show on the front end. His jittery time, ability to turn the beat inside out, and cleanly fractured single strokes during his solo eclipsed the fine work of his trio mates, but Broadbent reigned supreme when the music took a more introspective turn, during the transition into the second number in the medley.
As the show continued, Lee Morgan's "Ceora" was set adrift with a beautiful piano introduction from Broadbent, and this understated number proved to be one of the highlights of the set. "I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You" provided another opportunity to admire the stellar synchronicity in everything the trio does, but "Alone Together" belonged to bassist Putter Smith, as he delivered his most impressive solo of the evening. A stunning "Body And Soul" followed and, while the spell Broadbent cast was briefly broken by some noisy patrons in the hotel lobby, it proved to be the most memorable piano performance of the evening. Romance, rhapsodic drama, and lush trappings surrounded this song, as Broadbent's blissfully beautiful playing wafted through the air. While this number could have been a fitting send-off, Broadbent delivered Clifford Brown's "Daahoud" as the coda. The trio interplay on this number served as a reminder of what this group is all about, but the relationship between two menBroadbent and Stephanswas on display as the song neared its conclusion. While this wasn't the first song in the set to feature both men trading eights, it proved to be the high point of this number, and a great way to end a stellar set of music from one of the finest jazz piano trios performing today.
Juan Carlos Hernandez