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We're Here To Listen is composer and pianist Leslie Pintchik's third album. Grammatical pedants might feel that You're Here To Listen would be a more apposite title. However, Pintchik, who was once an English Literature teaching assistant at Columbia University, chose the title to emphasize the importance of musicians listening to each other as they perform, and the performances on We're Here To Listen lend an honesty to the title. This is an exquisite quartet with an understanding of each others' playing that comes from years of experience as well as from an ability to listen in the moment.
Pintchik and bassist Scott Hardy co-arranged the three cover songs, breathing new life into Bob Dylan's protest warhorse, "Blowin' in the Wind," from the opening bells and gong to the samba rhythm with which they underpin the tune. Allen Shamblin and Mike Reid's heartbreaking Americana love song, "I Can't Make You Love Me," is beautifully re-imagined here: Pintchik's spare and lingering playing of the melody is underpinned by drummer Mark Dodge and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi
, while the coda is given a samba rhythm to end the song in an almost optimistic tone. Fred Coots and Sam Lewis' "For All We Know" also sounds more upbeat and optimistic than is usual, thanks to the interplay between the quartet and, in particular, between Pintchick and bassist Scott Hardy.
The remaining tunes, bar one, are Pintchik originals. They are characterized by playfulness as well as by a warm beauty. "There You Go" is built around a three-note phrase that reflects the title. its playfulness exemplified by Takeishi's percussionbright, metallic, trills and chimes interspersed at just the right moments. "Discreet" centers on a lilting melody, which Pintchik plays with grace and eloquence, and features a fluid bass solo from Hardy.
Hardy's emphatic bass notes open "Ancient," his own composition. It's another beautiful ballad, the ensemble playing is delightfully engaging and Pintchik's own solo is light and thoughtful.
We're Here To Listen is a stylish album, played by talented musicians whose selfless ability to interact ensures that this is music performed at the highest creative level.
Track Listing: Blowin' in the Wind; I Can't Make You Love Me; There You Go; Completely; In the Wrong Place at the Right Time; Wabi-Sabi; For All We Know; Ripe; Discreet; Ancient.
Personnel: Leslie Pintchik: piano; Scott Hardy: bass, acoustic guitar; Mark Dodge: drums; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion.