David Budway: A New Kiss (2011)
David Budway's accomplished piano abilities are front and center on A New Kiss. Sometimes richly vibrant, sometimes plaintively florid, the overall spirit of Budway's arrangements ooze musical sophistication. Backed by the superb rhythm section of bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, Budway works his way through a mix of originals and standards, with each track highlighting a shifting stylistic element. At its most engaging, Budway's musicality floats like a melodic ether over the gritty tug of the rhythm section.
The opening "Japanese Brunch" is just such a tune. Kicking off with a syncopated hook, Budway and mates immediately take off into inventive flight, aided by the addition of Marcus Strickland's soprano saxophone. The tune stays rhythmically hot through Watts' emphasis on toms, snare and bass drum, partnered with Revis' pushing bass lines. Again, on another original, "Maintain Speed Through Tunnel," Budway's unit expertly walks the fine line between melodic expressiveness and earthy sustenance, through the give-and-take of soloist to rhythm section. Watts' drums are recorded with a crisp presence throughout, and he is a master at quickly nudging a solo line with an extra flick at the snare or tom-tom.
In tunes where that give-and-take is lacking, the music runs low on gas, exiting off into a sort of cabaret bounciness. While technically impressive, tunes like Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and "Lonely Cane," which features Branford Marsalis on soprano saxophone, lack the total vibrancy of other tracks. But Budway's agile talents are always present, and wisely partnering the pianist with musicians so able to serve up contagiously dynamic backing gives A New Kiss a vibrancy that saves the highly enjoyable rough edges from too smooth a delivery.
Track Listing: Japanese Brunch; Lonely Cane; Strike Up The Band; Love You Tonight; Stinky; Round Midnight; Maintain Speed Through Tunnel; You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To; A New Kiss; Phi; Sama'i Shat Arabud.
Personnel: David Budway: piano; Eric Revis: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums; Branford Marsalis: soprano saxophone; Marcus Strickland: soprano saxophone; Ron Affif: guitar; Joe "Sonny" Barbato: accordion.