Dave Peck: 3 and !

Jason West By

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With3 and 1, pianist Dave Peck, acoustic bassist Chuck Deardorf and drummer Dean Hodges have combined to produce a musical work of art. Here is melody and harmony. Here is humor and sadness. Here technique and musicianship wed personality and communication. And here is improvisation – the heart of this music we call jazz –revealing Peck and company as one of the most sensitive, lyrical piano trios in the world to date.

All tunes, 8 standards and one original, are worthy of mention, and the initial track, “If I Were a Bell,” is especially so. Frank Loesser’s classic begins with an extended, cheerful introduction by Peck, and given the choice, I would gladly wake up every morning with these spontaneous modulations chirping from clock-radio to ear. “Soul Eyes” is the first of many delicate ballads on3 and 1,. Peck’s touch and Deardorf’s tone, not to mentions Hodges warm brushwork, fit naturally with Mal Waldron’s original, majestic sentiment. “Eronel” is a playful Monk tune, and like many Monk tunes there’s a wry wrinkle in the melody. Dave has fun and the trio takes no time to swing, offering solos full of excitement and invention. The ballad “If...Then...” is the sole Peck original here and it clearly deserves its place within the list of standards found on3 and 1,. “Star Eyes” gets back to swinging bop, the kind Charlie Parker, no doubt, would have approved. Listen to the musical exchange between solos. Peck’s intro phrases and exit lines lift the trio to a higher level. “Alone Together” contains another Peck extended overture that’s as lovely as the tune itself.

If forced to pick a favorite cut from this recording I would choose “Ana Luiza,” the little-heard Tom Jobim creation transposed and adapted by Peck. Its long form melody is given a faithful reading and repeated only once for the sake of improvisation. Both choruses are masterful – played in even eights by Deardorf and Hodges – and Peck never once harms the fragile china doll that is Jobim’s lyric melody. In fact, Peck brings out its feminine strength and power, a duality rich in the great Brazilian composer’s work.

The title track written by Thad Jones is full of bebop’s vital ingredients – bounce, lyricism, and harmonic complexity –the trio brings them out with alacrity and deftness. Like the moment the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, Peck flies into the tune’s first notes, and what happens next is pure spontaneity – anybody’s guess. “Every Time We Say Goodbye” fittingly concludes this recording but not before Peck graces us with another pregnant prologue. Hints of “We’ll Be Together Again” and “Someday My Prince Will Come” adorn Dave’s introduction. Certainly, Cole Porter’s classic ballad is given all the rich sensitivity it deserves.

In the midst of listening to3 and 1, intimate conversation the question arises, “What more praise can an artist receive than to be called ‘feeling’”? Dave Peck plays with profound feeling, and as a result, his music is capable of speaking to a world of listeners with ears and time enough to listen. What happens next really doesn’t matter. What does is that you let it.

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