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Pianist Pete Malinverni’s fifth date for Reservoir reunites the leader with bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Leroy Williams in a program designed to showcase the more aggressive cast the trio often takes in its live performances.
Malinverni’s mastery of the bebop idiom is virtually unmatched by young pianists, the legitimacy of his approach delivering a depth to his playing that brings out the harmonic sophistication and rhythmic richness of all the music he explores here. While obviously deeply dedicated to the stylistic innovations of Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, Malinverni’s interpolation of their techniques into his own style also calls to mind the work of George Wallington and Mal Waldron.
The latter’s influence is most evident on the leader’s original title track, where his use of the lower register with a bass ostinato written for Irwin create an ominous mood. His arrangement of “My Heart Stood Still,” while reminiscent of Powell, ends surprisingly with a Monkish tag. Monk’s mark is also evident on “Let The Sea Roar,” an original by the leader reflecting his devotion to sacred music. Two distinctive solo versions of “Alone Together” reveal a diversity in his approach to improvisation. “Twelve,” a playful original that is humorous in its conception and linear in its improvisation, is probably the best example on the date of how Malinverni has combined the influences of Monk and Powell. On “Get Happy,” a tour de force duet with Williams’ drums, he shows off his considerable chops, while on the standards “My Ideal” and “From This Moment On” he demonstrates how his knowledge of the songs’ lyrics enlightens his sensitive interpretations of them. The lilting version of “It Could Happen To You” that ends the date is similarly informed by the tune’s optimistic words.
In a trio recital last month at the Jazz Gallery, with bassist Ben Allison substituting for an injured Irwin, Malinverni was reunited with the Bradley’s Baldwin piano that was instrumental in his development and, on a set of mostly standards, rewarded the appreciative audience with some truly authentic swinging.