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Pete Malinverni Trio: A Beautiful Thing

Dan McClenaghan By

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The great tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins once said: "[music]...if you don't make mistakes you're not really trying." Pianist Pete Maliverni seems to have taken this statement to heart, going into the studio with his working trio—bassist Lee Hudson and drummer Eliot Zigmund—to record A Beautiful Thing, producing a music full of inspired flexibility, much like what would be heard on a live date.

The set underscores advice that would be well-taken by any jazz musician—any artist for that matter—that nothing great is going to happen if you're being too careful. Loosen up and let it fly, baby.

Which is exactly what the trio does. They went into the studio for a four-hour session, and came up with a jewel.

The tone is set with Malinverni's opening title tune. There is a relaxed ease of delivery, the bass and drums laying down a solid, cushioned foundation for Malinverni's joyous and uplifting exuberance.

The Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic, "A House is Not a Home," a recent entry in The Great American Songbook, gets the tenderest of treatments, with Malinverni's beautiful, delicate touch underlain by Zigmund's whispers and flutters, and Hudson's subtle heartbeat. "And So It Goes," one of Billy Joel's most poignant and straightforward love songs, is played with a disarmingly sublime simplicity.

"In the Garden of the Eternal Optimist" is Maliverni's dedication to his wife, singer Jody Sandhaus, who is apparently an ebullient and glowingly positive spirit, captured in this bouncy, light-stepping tune. "Go Down Moses," another original, speaks to our common struggles with its percussive forward momentum and sharp angles.

The set closes out with a couple of familiar tunes. The trio rollicks into Gus Arnheim's "Sweet and Lovely"—one of Thelonious Monk's favorite vehicles—before the melody emerges, with Malinverni exploring the nooks and crannies with an unfettered zest. On Harold Arlen's "My Shining Hour," Maliverni really let's things fly, going after the tune with a studied intensity, a high energy wrap-up to a gorgeous set.

Track Listing: A Beautiful Thing; A House Is Not a Home; In the Garden of the Eternal Optimist; And So It Goes; Go Down, Moses; Evocative; La Vie En Rose; Nefesh Soul; Sweet and Lovely; My Shining Hour.

Personnel: Pete Malinverni: piano; Lee Hudson: bass; Eliot Zigmund: drums

Title: A Beautiful Thing | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Saranac


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