For those of you with a tendency to judge a CD by its cover, this one can fool you. Young pianist Dan Cray in a slouching wall lean, a downcast expression, a grim set to his mouth. The fellow looks every bit the picture of timidity and dejection. How's a guy like that going to pull off one of the toughest jazz tricks: the piano/bass/drums affair. (and o.k., they were trying, successfully, to evoke the mood of the CDs title).
But if you get ready for a diffident, maybe maudlin musical experience, get ready to change gears: from the first note of Charlie Parker's "Segment", this debut effort is a lively, upbeat affair, infused with a youthful zest, first-rate musicianship and rhythmic joy.
A bunch of standards: "Segment"; a jaunty "It Could Happen to You" (Burke-Van Heusen); a hard-marching "Old Devil Moon"; Gershwin's (every jazz CD should have one) "Who Cares", at a racing tempo; and one Cray original, a light-stepping "Patiently Waiting".
This must be a working band. The trio-mates bounce off of each other with an easy, empathic grace. And pay special attention to drummer Wyser-Pratte. He works the high endsnare drum/cymbalswith a zingy, easy zeal that drives things forward, keeps them a bit on edge.
A beautiful, auspicious debut from a talented young piano man.