For her second album, pianist Leslie Pintchik has chosen an unusual musical motif. While her debut, Glad to be Here
(Ambient, 2004), featured a piano trio, Quartets
presents two distinctly different ensembles: one with Pintchik, alongside percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, bassist Scott Hardy and drummer Mark Dodge; the other with alto/soprano saxophonist, Steve Wilson replacing Takeishi. The music of the two quartets is quite different: Wilson is the primary voice of the four songsall written by Pintchikon which he appears, making this combo sound like, well, the Steve Wilson Quartet.
The album begins unexpectedly with a down-tempo version of Milton Agar/Jack Yellin's "Happy Days Are Here Again." This is the same technique that jazz singer Tierney Sutton used on the opening track of On the Other Side (Telarc, 2007). Jerry Bock's show tune, "Too Close For Comfort," is played out in a Brazilian mode, incorporating both a samba and partito rhythm. On both tunes, Takeishi provides exotic sounds with his various tools of percussion. The best tune for this group is the tantalizing samba "Fugu," composed by Hardy (the pianist's husband).
The addition of Wilson shows just how lyrical his touch has become on both horns. His first appearance, on the bebop tune "Not So Fast," is a clear indication of how Wilson, on alto, can provide a melodic touch. On "Over Easy" Wilson switches to soprano, with "Small Pleasures" providing a more up-tempo samba beat.
The album ends on a rather quixotic note via a lyrical ballad version of Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere," from West Side Story. It ends by segueing into a very brief version of Baden Powell/Vinicius de Moraes' "Berimbau," serving as a percussive exclamation point from Takeishi. Perhaps it is a metaphoric coda to the session, ending the album on an upbeat moment.
Personnel: Leslie Pintchik: piano; Scott Hardy: bass; Mark Dodge: drums; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion (1-3, 7, 9); Steve Wilson: alto and soprano saxes (4-6, 8).