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Edward Simon: Unicity (2006)

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Edward Simon: Unicity How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Pianist Edward Simon has been quietly but profoundly making an impact for a number of years. He's been an astute sideman with high-caliber players like trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Greg Osby and guitarist Adam Rogers, but it is his own works—The Process (Criss Cross, 2003) and Simplicitas (Criss Cross, 2005)—that truly reveal his performance and compositional prowess.

Edwards explores the mystic of the piano trio again on Unicity, joined by two other outstanding musicians: bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, both of whom are a vital part of the recent award-winning Wayne Shorter Quartet. Having played together on Patitucci's 2003 Songs, Stories, and Spirituals, their chemistry is still intact.

The underlying tone here is one of smooth and controlled power brought about by musicians who have a connected as a unit. Brian Blade is a drummer with a delicate sense of timing and detailed but never overpowering trap work. Patitucci, an awesome bassist, has never sounded better, with full-bodied rhythms, elaborate solos and a variety of textures. Simon, whose influences include pianists Chucho Valdes and Egberto Gismonti, plays with sophistication and classical training, reflecting his Venezuelan upbringing, combining lyricism and structure with jazz improvisation.

One of Simon's strengths is his ability to absorb and extract styles, be it the post bop of "The Messenger or the romanticism of the too-brief "Abiding Unicity, with gorgeous lines and dramatic changes. The remainder of the set continues with an eclectic mix, including "Evolution, where Patitucci employs the use of an electric arco bass, and "Eastern, where Simon improvises over a simple theme colored by Blade's shimmering percussion.

Track Listing: Invocation; The Messenger; Abiding Unicity; Gevriasolas; The Midst Of Chaos; Prelude N.9; Pathless Path; Evolution; Eastern; Abiding Unicity (Reprise).

Personnel: Edward Simon: piano; John Patitucci: bass, electric bass; Brian Blade: drums.

Record Label: CAM Jazz

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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